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Movie Review: Foxcatcher (2015)

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Starring: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum & Mark Ruffalo

Directed by: Bennett Miller

There comes a time in a comic actor’s career where he wants to flex his serious muscles. Robin William did it in Good Will Hunting and One Hour Photo, Jim Carrey proved himself in Number 23 and now Steve Carell is having a go at it. The only other serious role I’ve seen him in is The Way Way Back. His character was such a dick yet he was a standout performer (Sam Rockwell was head and shoulders above the rest). He proved himself but there’s always that funny guy tag surrounding him which is rightfully deserved. I honestly never knew he was involved in Foxcatcher. Just look at that movie poster. It looks nothing like him!  The other reason I wanted to see this is because it’s revolved around wrestling. It’s a sport (or sports entertainment) that I love.

Channing Tatum stars as Mark Schultz. He’s an Olympic wrestling champion (like Kurt Angle) who’s been pushed aside. The opening scene sees him giving a speech in front of uninterested school kids and living on the breadline. He lives in the shadow of his brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo), who is also a gold medallist. Mark’s fortunes change when he is contacted by John du Pont (Carell), the founder of an amateur wrestling facility known as Foxcatcher farms. Du Pont wants both of the Schultz brothers to join his private wrestling team where they will coach, train for the World championship and be paid a healthy sum. Dave turns it down as he and his family are settled where they are so Mark goes it alone. Mark is being lead down a dark road by du Pont, causing the athlete’s self-esteem to slip and is encouraged by du Pont to experiment with cocaine. Later on, du Pont becomes fixated on bringing Dave into the fold, eventually propelling all three toward an unforeseen tragedy.

The acting was immense. If you think that Steve Carell is nothing more than a comedy actor then think again. This film will change your entire opinion on his acting credentials. He knocks it out the park for sure in this career changing performance. Tatum was on form and Ruffalo impressed me a lot. I think he’s excellent but doesn’t really get the recognition he truly deserves. The story told was gripping and I never once felt that there was any one time where it was starting to drag out. It had my attention from start to finish. In a nutshell, it’s really the life and times of a rich weirdo with a manufactured world around him thanks to his privilege. Du Pont sees himself as a mentor and a teacher, but really he’s just the guy writing the checks, and when his constructed view of reality is challenged, that’s when things get dangerous. He’s not as psychologically complex as advertised but it’s very clear that du Pont had serious narcissism issues or a case of god complex.

The real Mark Schultz took to social media to blast Bennett Miller for his portrayal in the movie. He was angry regarding certain scenes which suggested that he and John had somewhat of a gay relationship.  Critics suggested that there may have been homosexual undertones to their relationship but I didn’t see it that way at all. I saw it as de Pont’s way of massaging his ego by dominating others. Judge for yourself.

The performances of Carell, Tatum and Ruffalo are a key reason why you need to see this.

Rating: ***** (Top of the pops)

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