Director: Bennett Miller
Stars: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller
Chilling drama which soars like an eagle!
Foxcatcher has the absorbing coldness of a film by Michael Haneke. I had zero interest when I read that it was about Olympic wrestling, however my interest was lighted when I saw the sinister trailer for the film and found out that it was in fact a psychological drama and not some sort of rites-of-passage sports movie. Unfortunately, I did read about the ending and started kicking myself when many critics recommended reading nothing on the true story. So although the ending was no surprise to me, it was still pretty shocking.
However, there’s much more to admire about the film than its tragic finale. A lot of people have called the film too slow and boring, and whilst it is very slow paced, I never found it boring for a moment. People who find this film boring would probably end up committing suicide if they put themselves through something like Uzak! I did think that it was longer than it needed to be, but it wasn’t much of a detraction. Apparently, the original rough cut was almost 4 hours long so the editors have done well to whittle it down to a trim 130 minutes.
The beginning of the film perfectly illustrates the lonely existence of wrestler, Mark Schultz. The shots are long, uninterrupted and the lighting is dim. Mark existence is based purely around wrestling as he lacks any sort of social life. His brother is his only friend and even he isn’t that friendly towards him. Things change when similarly socially inept, John Du Pont invites him over to his mansion and asks to join his wrestling team and train for the Olympics.
There’s a thick foreboding atmosphere which penetrates throughout the film. A lot of the sinister edge comes from Steve Carell’s outstanding portrayal of wrestling and bird enthusiast, John Du Pont. He’s almost unrecognisable with his gigantic prosthetic nose which could outdo Katie Hopkins! He doesn’t look, sound or act all that human. There’s an otherworldly quality to him and you can’t help but become completely absorbed whenever he’s on screen. He’s an unpredictable character who always remains compelling. The maniacal end scene urged me to find out more about the true life case.
I was also impressed with Channing Tatum, who is normally cast as the pretty boy in rom-coms. His performance is pretty intense and a large amount of method acting was involved too. Apparently when he smashed his head on the mirror it was completely improvised! Mark Ruffalo didn’t impress me quite as much but he still held his own. Really it’s Steve’s show and you’ll go away from the film with his haunting performance in your mind.
Foxcatcher is a supremely creepy and atmospheric film. It’s a character and relationship study. Watching John and Mark become friends is quietly gripping. Their fallout is all the more interesting. It’s beautifully directed and its quiet surrealism adds to the film’s sinister atmosphere. Perhaps it’s a little too slow for mass audiences, but fans of Michael Haneke and Paul Thomas Anderson will undoubtedly find a lot to like. I know that I did!