AWARDS season is well and truly in full swing with Bennett Miller’s Oscar nominated true life tale.
Set mostly in the 1980’s, Foxcatcher is the story of Olympic gold winning wrestler brothers Mark Schultz, played by Channing Tatum and David Schultz, played by Mark Ruffalo, and their subsequent relationship with multi-millionaire John du Pont.
Steve Carell plays du Pont, a secluded but determined heir to the du Pont family fortune in love with the sport of wrestling and obsessed with the idea of making America great again on the world stage.
The Shultz brothers are hired by du Pont to come to his vast 800 acre estate “Foxcatcher Farm” to help train US wrestling Olympians.
The film focuses primarily on the strange relationship between du Pont and both Schultz brothers, specifically Tatum’s Mark.
The obvious thing to say about the film is just how bleak the tone is coupled with a deliberately restrained pacing. With minimal music and few loud spectacle moments, Foxcatcher is a film that’s drama is to be found in the subtlety tense and edgy scenes between the talented trio of cast members dominating the films initial buzz.
Throughout Foxcatcher, several themes of American sport culture, sibling rivalry and family legacy are touched upon to provide the film with the depth required to elevate it above convention and mediocrity.
Carell gives an unnerving, spine-chilling and physically transformative performance, one that you certainly wouldn’t expect from the same man responsible for such films as Evan Almighty or The 40 year old virgin.
Ruffalo is equally as impressive, breathing loving warmth into every scene with his brooding family comes first style.
With Carell and Ruffalo both nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively at this years Oscars, they are naturally the ones garnering most attention for their roles and while they are both very impressive it’s Channing Tatum who cements the film together, treading a very careful line between a proud and edgy yet emotionally challenged, vulnerable man.
Despite impressive performances from its cast, a profoundly deep insight into American competitive sport and a remarkably well achieved pitch black tone, Foxcatcher does suffer from the results of its own ambitions.
The story of du Pont and the Shultz brothers is definitely an intriguing one but that doesn’t mean it will make for an endlessly entertaining film and will leave some viewers wanting in terms of spectacle and raw drama.
Without the very strong performances of its cast you might be left with a slightly dull film that may make you nod your head in appreciation at its strong realism and insightful dialogue but the loud spectacle moments that are necessary to keep your eyes transfixed on the screen are in short supply.
Despite this it still makes for interesting viewing and to find three performances that are so diverse, physical varied but equally as impressive is something that sets Foxcatcher away from just another mediocre drama yet a lack of discernible action stops it from being a great film.