Foxcatcher (2014)

8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Good looking, good cast

Story felt a bit under-explored

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Foxcatcher

Studio:  Annapuma Pictures

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  May 19, 2014 (Cannes Film Festival)/January 16, 2015 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

foxcatcher john du pont steve carell coaching

I own all of you

Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) is an Olympic gold medalist from the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.  His brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo) also is a gold medalist, but unlike Mark, he has the charm, skills, and ability to be a coach.  When John du Pont (Steve Carell) contacts Mark and tells him that he wants him to lead his wrestling team Foxcatcher, Mark finds that he might finally get out from under his brother’s wing.  Moving onto the grand du Pont estate, Mark is finally being paid for his wrestling and setting himself up for 1988 Olympics in Seoul.  John “the Eagle” du Pont wants gold and he’ll stop at nothing to get it.

Directed by Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher is a true story based on the murder of Dave Schultz and the events leading up to it.  The movie was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Actor (Steve Carell), Best Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo), Best Original Screenplay, and Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

foxcatcher mark dave schultz channing tatum mark ruffalo training

Seriously…you don’t think this du Pont guy is creepy?

Foxcatcher landed in a bit of controversy around Oscar season.  Many were critical of Bennett Miller being nominated for Best Director (without Foxcatcher being nominated for Best Picture) when favorite Ava DuVernay was “snubbed” for Selma in what could have been a first for the Academy (an African-American female director).  I do have to agree that I don’t know if Foxcatcher is a “Best Picture”, but it does look fantastic and has a great cast.

The story of Foxcatcher is where the picture seems to falter a bit.  I always feel sorry for Olympians.  They train their whole life for a two week competition and they only have a few options open to them after the event is over.  This combined with the obsession with control by Steve Carell’s du Pont character is a bad combo for Mark Schultz.

foxcatcher john du pont wrestling steve carell

Oh no…stop…don’t pin me…

Carroll’s character wants what he wants and isn’t afraid to use people to get it.  When he can’t use Mark to get Dave, he tries to shape him into what he wants and needs…but when that self-destructs, he returns to Dave as his hope (all in a sad attempt to impress his mother played by Vanessa Redgrave).  I love this game of chess, but I feel that there was so much more room for exploration (especially combined with the Olympian ideas).

The acting however is top notch.  Steve Carell gets all the attention by leaving his comedy roots behind to play du Pont.  I have to say it is a bit hard to not see some Michael Scott at times in the performance but he does nail it when you go watch real videos of du Pont.  Carell’s acclaim overshadows Mark Ruffalo who shows his versatility as an actor.  The surprise was probably Channing Tatum who generally is eye candy in movies and here gives a rather strong performance as the rather dim Mark who can’t recognize he’s getting into a bad situation.  Another player who is almost unrecognizable is Anthony Michael Hall as one of du Pont’s yes-men.

foxcatcher john du pont gun steve carell

You’re going to win gold

Regardless what you think about the Selma controversy, Foxcatcher is shot wish skill and style and I think Bennett Miller needs the credit.  The movie isn’t afraid to take time to really allow scenes to breath.  It also does a great job showing the disparity between the upper-class du Pont and his extreme lifestyle and how it would feel for s character like Mark to suddenly be thrust into it.

Foxcatcher is a movie I wanted to like more than I did, but I still felt it was pretty good.  It is a bit disappointing that such a rich story and rich characters were underdeveloped in the movie.  I wanted more from Foxcatcher but just didn’t get it.  It left me wishing for a real solid documentary on the events of the film.


Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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