Much has been said about Steve Carell’s career defining performance as wrestling coach John du Pont since Foxcatcher premiered at Cannes eight months ago. It’s an astonishing transformation encompassing prosthetics, posture and voice, but Foxcatcher also offers a change in tempo for Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo as wrestling brothers Mark and David Shultz.
Steve Carell Foxcatcher

Heir to one of America’s richest families, du Pont dreams of leading the US wrestling team to Olympic success. He forges a relationship with Mark and establishes Team Foxcatcher but success is frustrated by his own passive aggressive nature, vanity and unpredictable behaviour. Du Pont fires guns in wrestling practice and snorts cocaine. Filmgoers who don’t know how this true story turns out should stay in the dark.

Director Bennett Miller (Capote, Moneyball) hits on some familiar themes – drugs, patriotism, family rivalry and the power of wealth – but Foxcatcher is refreshingly complicated. When the relationship between Mark and du Pont crumbles, there’s no easy answer why. Instead, Miller’s understated and subtle approach reveals a web of causality that divides our sympathies.

Du Pont’s madness – his passion for high calibre weaponry and narcissistic glory hunting – is tempered by a troubled relationship with his mother (Vanessa Redgrave) who suffocates his dreams and regards his sport as “low”. Du Pont’s return to over-50s wrestling and desperate image building can be read both as an effort to defy her and to seek her approval.

Some filmgoers might find Miller’s thoughtful style frustratingly slow, but Foxcatcher’s sinister mood and detachment is unconventionally seductive.

VERDICT: ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ 5/5

 

Certificate: 15
Running Time: 134 minutes
Images: © Fair Hill, LLC.
UK Release Date: 9 January 2015
 
Review first printed in Ashfield & Mansfield Chad

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