Starring: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller, Vanessa Redgrave, Anthony Michael Hall
Directed By: Bennett Miller
Written By: E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 2 hr 14 min
Foxcatcher presents an emotionally complex and intense theatrical version of true life events centered around a troubled relationship between two brothers, Mark and David Schultz (Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo) and the millionaire philanthropist and ornithologist*, John Eleuthère du Pont (a completely unrecognizable Steve Carell.) Focusing its attention on the relationship both John and David have as mentors to the younger impressionable Mark, and portraying John as a wealthy loner, made socially inept through years of coddling by his overbearing mother, Jean du Pont (Vanessa Redgrave.)
The movie’s main strength comes from three incredibly authentic performances from Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Steve Carell. Both in their physicality and dialog delivery. It’s clear each actor painstakingly researched their individual roles, and director Bennett Miller makes sure the audience gets to appreciate their work with his unfussy approach to telling this story.
E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman’s screenplay sits pretty close to the actual events as they occurred, while also adding some reasonable speculation about each characters motivations. The only aspect of this film I didn’t enjoy was the running time. At 134 minutes, it’s about 20 minutes too long. Established character traits get revisited too often, and on occasion, I found some scenes lingered more than they needed to.
* Ornithologists study every aspect of birds, including bird songs, flight patterns, physical appearance, and migration patterns.
If you appreciate award worthy performances, this is a must see. Set yourself up to expect a slow, but fairly tense drama. The movie is harshly rated R for some drug use and a single moment of violence.
Foxcatcher is a well made film, but I didn’t see or hear anything that justified the cost of a theater visit. This will work perfectly well in HD at home on your TV, laptop, or tablet.
John du Pont’s mother visits the Foxcatcher gym to watch a training session. After noticing his mother, John feels he should be seen as a leader of this group, and attempts to give some wrestling advice to one of the athletes, despite clearly knowing very little about the sport. At no other point in the film, does this character seem more tragic and pathetic.