Director: Bennett Miller (2015)

In this chilly, complex and exceptionally crafted thriller based on a true story, actors more famous for action and comedy give great dramatic performances.

In mood, tone, subject matter and careful execution it is similar to Miller’s Capote (2005) for which the late Philip Seymour Hoffman won the best actor Oscar.

US gold medal wrestling champ Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) is being coached for for the Seoul Olympics by older brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo).

Aggressive in the ring, the emotionally stunted Mark lacks social confidence and struggles financially. Dave has acted as father as well as brother but now prioritises his wife Nancy (Sienna Miller) and children.

As in American Sniper, Miller demonstrates she’s capable of excellence given the opportunity, it’s a shame that in both films she isn’t given more to do.

At no point does Dave consider himself to be a contributor to Mark’s issues.

Mark is overwhelmed when patriotic multimillionaire wrestling enthusiast John du Pont (Steve Carell) demands to help the US Olympic cause, flying Mark out to his secluded Foxcatcher estate where he has built a state of the art training facility.

From behind prosthetic nose, paunch and grey hair, Carell offers a mesmerising performance, hinting at a complex internal conflcits, not least his feelings towards his emotionally cold mother Jean (Vanessa Redgrave).

Flexing his financial muscle, du Pont brings on board the entire US wrestling team, names them Foxcatcher after his estate and hires Dave to train them for Olympic glory.

The wrestling scenes are convincing and comprehensible while the muted tone, autumnal colours and nuanced performances create a creeping foreboding.

Desperate for affirmation by his wealthy associates, du Pont parades his pet project around town while tension develops between du Pont and Dave as they compete to exercise an unhealthy degree of control over Mark.

With a shocking violence, the cold blooded and tragic end offers further punishment but no redemption.


3 thoughts on “Foxcatcher

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