What I first heard about Foxcatcher was the fact the press was really behind Steve Carell and his Oscar worthy performance. Bennett Miller created such a unique vision into fact based events, and also had three of the best combined acting performances in a movie seen in the past several years in Foxcatcher. I was blown away by everything I saw in the performances of Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, and yes even Channing Tatum. Everything about Foxcatcher works, but it isn’t the perfect film in my eyes.
Foxcatcher starts in the year 1987 as we see a hulking figure practicing his wrestling in a small gym. We learn that it is 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum), and it seems that his life hasn’t really seen the heights it had when he won the Gold Medal. He trains with his brother David Schultz (Mark Ruffalo), who is often looked at as the more talented and better coach of the two. Mark doesn’t see where his life is going when he is approached by John Du Pont (Steve Carrell). John Du Pont is the heir to the family fortune of the famous last name, but he feels as if his life is missing something. He decides that he wants to learn and help train wrestlers to become the best and create a place for wrestlers to train and prepare for the Olympics. The name of the training facility, Team Foxcatcher.
This is a great opening, because it helps establish the characters, and what we may expect when things develop. The first thing I really noticed was the way Tatum changed his posture, the way he walks, and even throws his jaw forward to become a more hulking and intimidating figure. Ruffalo too has a look that is established with the way he walks and how his posture molds to the character. While those two did a great job of looking their part, Steve Carell by far looked nothing like he normally does. The transformation is unbelievable, and I found myself at times knowing I was watching Steve Carell, but I couldn’t tell at all it was him.
Team Foxcatcher is seemingly doing a great job, and Mark even excels in the 1987 World Championships, much thanks to the coaching given to him by David. David continues to question what he sees in John, and if he really understands what he is doing. Mark tells his brother that everything is fine, and that they will continue to grow Team Foxcatcher. David offers Mark a job with him at a small university to help coach wrestling, but Mark refuses. This is a great set-up as to what happens later. Du Pont has his team, and is being trained as well as being “Coach” of Team Foxcatcher.
We learn that John is trying to separate and make his mother proud of what he is doing. His Mother, Jean Du Pont (Vanessa Redgrave), tells him that she doesn’t like what he is doing, and the fact that he’s trying to impress her shows you how low of a man he truly is. This is important to note, because this is where we see John making sure the training is intensified, and making sure that no matter what, he will continue to coach and learn how to wrestle, he will do it in spite of what his mother says.
The story really develops when Mark is giving the team the morning off, and John is looking for the team to continue to strive for greatness. After seeing the team was taking the morning off, John took upon himself to recruit David to become the new coach of Team Foxcather. When David arrives, it’s clear what’s going on at the the toll it has taken on Mark, and that the team is actually growing under the coaching of David. Mark continues to watch his life spiral out of control, but with the help of David, Mark starts to get his life back under control. John was soaking in the adulation of Team Foxcatcher, so much it became his life. This all builds to the climactic ending that just blows away the audience in the way a truly great ride does, and ties everything all together.
I loved Foxcatcher for everything it was, but like I said before, it isn’t the perfect film in my eyes. There are times where it slowly develops, and suffers from lulls. This doesn’t help the audience when we go from a place of excitement back into a place of not sure what is being told at that point. The way the movie is laid out also provides a great understanding of the timing of the events going on at that given time, but after doing some research; I found out how rushed the ending truly was compared to the real life events. There were also a few details that were left out, and while it doesn’t take much away from what I saw, it suffers in the truth being told.
Overall I will say that Foxcatcher is an unbelievable spectacle of acting. There should be more than one Oscar Nominee amongst the actors, but also Director Benett Miller. If you want to see acting at it’s finest, and also supreme storytelling, Foxcatcher is the movie to see.