Saturday, December 27, 2014


Movie Name: Foxcatcher
Year of Release: 2014
Director: Bennett Miller
Stars: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Vanessa Redgrave, Sienna Miller, Anthony Michael Hall, Guy Boyd, Brett Rice
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8

"Foxcatcher" is Bennett Miller's third feature film, and easily one of his best so far (his previous ones were the fantastic "Capote" and "Moneyball"). The film, based on a true story, introduces us to Mark Schultz a young athlete, who is a Gold Olympic Medalist from the 1984 Games, who lives in a small apartment, trying to make ends meet, all the while training with his older brother Dave, for the upcoming world championship. Mark's world is suddenly altered when John Du Pont contacts him, wanting to arrange a meeting in his Foxcatcher facility - the goal of the millionaire is to sponsor Mark's career and have him train locally (and have himself as the coach and mentor of a team). Mark gladly accepts the invitation, unlike his brother Dave who doesn't want to uproot his family. Mark wins the Championship, and starts the process of training for the upcoming Olympics, however his relationship with Du Pont has deteriorated at that point (something emphasized by illegal substances consumed by both). In an attempt to improve the morale of the group, Du Pont hires Dave to be the coach of the Foxcatcher team, which he accepts. His training enables Mark to be on the US wrestling team, but the results are less than stellar during the games. Upon their return, Mark abandons the training facility, while Du Pont's erratic behavior escalates with dramatic consequences.
Bennett Miller is a director who has steadily created a body of work known for the analytical precision with which he recounts his stories. "Foxcatcher" is a good example of his take on true life stories - he introduces the characters, without giving much insight about the lives we are presented with. With John Du Pont, we learn early on he comes from a life of privilege, but that he has a lot of issues with the presence of his domineering mother, and the film also hints at a certain level of homosexual repressed tendencies. Mark and Dave on the other hand, are young men, who had tough childhoods, and struggled through life, and for whom being an athlete and winning had always been their primary goal. These seemingly different worlds, one of privilege, class and money, versus a more humble one, are perfectly depicted in the film, giving more context and understanding into the worlds of these characters. The film doesn't offer an explanation for the actions of Du Pont - that's not the goal of the director - this is a snapshot of different worlds and personalities clashing, and how the results of these clashes can be dramatic and tragic. Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo are all incredible in their roles, creating interesting characters, that aren't just mimicking the real people they are portraying: they create complex and layered characters. The cinematography from Greig Fraser is stunning (he's also worked on Andrew Dominik's "Killing Them Softly" and Jane Campion's "Bright Star"), as is the score from Rob Simonsen. A great film that will make you think and reflect.