Review: Foxcatcher

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“Do I make the cheque out to David or Dave?”

“No, it’s Mark… Dave couldn’t come today.”

“I’m a gold medallist too.”

We’re given a very clear indication of Mark Schultz’s (played by Channing Tatum) place in the world within the first five minutes of Foxcatcher. He’s an Olympic Gold medallist who has to take $20 cheques to give vague speeches to pre-teens about success in sport and is also overshadowed by his big brother, Dave (Mark Ruffalo).

Mark’s life takes an apparent upswing however when a phone call on behalf of billionaire John E. Du Pont summons him to Foxcatcher Farm.

Du Pont, played by the almost unrecognisable Steve Carell, is hugely interested in Schultz and how his preparation is going for the upcoming Wrestling World Championships. Du Pont wishes to coach Schultz and offers him the use of his vast facilities on Foxcatcher Farm.

This movie is far from the stereotype model of a rich benefactor giving something back to society. Foxcatcher takes an entirely different turn as John Du Pont uses Mark as a claim to success that he has never had in his own life. Billionaire he may be, but it becomes quite clear from very early on that Du Pont is just an heir to a legacy that he has contributed little to.

Steve Carell’s character is reminiscent of one he famously played on the smaller screen – Michael Scott of The Office. Du Pont has a similar yearning for adoration and the petulance of Scott but his mind is far darker. Where Michael Scott was funny, Du Pont is sinister.

The movie itself is one-paced, punctuated with surreal moments such as when DuPont’s new tank (yes, a tank) arrives at his estate followed by the outburst he makes when he sees that it lacks the 50-calibre machine gun he requested. It is in these moments where we see a glimpse of who Du Pont is beneath the riches: a frustrated 50-year-old who never grew up, searching hopelessly to fulfil himself.

The movie is hugely similar in tone and style to another of director Bennett Miller’s true story adaptations: Capote. Once again Miller only provides a window for his audience to peer through and he refuses to delve into his characters’ minds. Instead, he leaves it to the viewer to determine an underlying message in the film – if one even exists in the first place.

In truth, Foxcatcher is a movie that stands on the quality of its cast rather than the designs of its director. Between Channing, Carell and Ruffalo, there’s much to enjoy, even if you will feel colder for the experience.

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