U.S. Olympic wrestling champions and brothers Mark Schultz and Dave Schultz join "Team Foxcatcher", led by eccentric multi-millionaire John du Pont, as they train for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, but John's self-destructive behavior threatens to consume them all.
Based on true events, Foxcatcher tells the dark and fascinating story of the unlikely and ultimately tragic relationship between an eccentric multi-millionaire and two champion wrestlers. When Olympic Gold Medal winning wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) is invited by wealthy heir John du Pont (Steve Carell) to move on to the du Pont estate and help form a team to train for the 1988 Seoul Olympics at his new state-of-the-art training facility, Schultz jumps at the opportunity, hoping to focus on his training and finally step out of the poverty striken situation Olympic caliber athletes like he and his revered brother, Dave (Mark Ruffalo). Driven by hidden needs, du Pont sees backing Schultz's bid for Gold and the chance to "coach" a world-class wrestling team as an opportunity to gain the elusive respect of his peers and, more importantly, his disapproving mother (Vanessa Redgrave). Trapped in du Pont's majestic but suffocating world, Mark comes to see his benefactor as an ...Written by
Sony Pictures Classics
When the wrestling team is watching the Ultimate Fighting Championship in his house it is 1987. The Ultimate Fighting Championship didn't air until 1993 and that specific fight didn't air until 1996. See more »
[Mark gives a speech to a school of young students]
Hello. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk to you today. My name is Mark Schultz. I wanna talk about America, and I wanna tell you why I wrestle.
[Mark holds up his Olympic gold metal to the kids]
This is an Olympic gold metal. I won this three years ago at the 23rd Olympic games in Los Angeles, California. This is more than just some piece of metal. It's about what the metal represents. The virtues it requires to attain...
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A chilling, quiet psychological drama about men striving for greatness
"Foxcatcher" is anything but a wrestling drama. Although based on the true story of Olympic gold medalist Mark Schultz and his brief years of training under multi-millionaire John du Pont, "Foxcatcher" expands well beyond the wrestling ring into the minds of two men longing to find greatness.
So those expecting anything close to director Bennett Miller's last film, "Moneyball," should be forewarned. This is not a sports movie, but a slow-burning character study (like Miller's first acclaimed film, "Capote") in which the wrestling serves as the visual, physical expression of the psychological struggle between the characters.
When we first meet Mark, played by Channing Tatum, whose versatility continues to amaze, it's 1987 and he is living in the faded glory of his 1984 gold medal. Despite his success, he is living a rather lonely life and itching to accomplish more; his brother, Dave (Mark Ruffalo), also won gold and Dave feels that leaves him with something to prove. So when John du Pont (Steve Carell) contacts him about paying him to come train at his top-notch facility on his family's estate, Foxcatcher Farm, he sees his opportunity.
Mark and du Pont's philosophies about striving to be the best align, and the two form a close, almost father-and-son bond, though more so because they both feel pressure to live up to others' expectations. Du Pont, in particular, wants to prove himself to his mother (Vanessa Redgrave), who breeds world class horses and finds wrestling barbaric. John's desperation, bottomless checkbook and unresolved family issues make for a dangerous combination, and his relationship with Mark slowly begins to change for the worse. Further complicating the matter is Dave, the only man capable of saving Mark from his demanding expectations of himself and whose coaching expertise intimidates du Pont.
The often unspoken psychological warfare between the three (and, perhaps most importantly, du Pont and his mother) is the driving force of the story more than anything that actually happens on screen. Mark's ups and downs as he competes at the '87 World Championships and '88 Olympic trials are symptomatic of his mental state and the state of his relationship with the other men. As such, "Foxcatcher" is a long, at times brooding film that can drag in spite of the brilliant character development and internal drama.
E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman's script is quiet and doesn't have a lot of big juicy moments for its actors to lean on, so the fact that Carell is totally haunting and captivating in this role says a lot. Du Pont is an incredibly complex character whose back story is mostly implied so as to keep him as unpredictable as possible. Even with all the makeup on, Carell gives the epitome of an understated performance, something you would never dream possible from a guy who has made a career out of big acting and abrasive characters. Undoubtedly some credit goes to Miller, who has churned out acting nominations and wins for his previous casts, and gets Carell and Tatum to pause and linger at all the right moments.
With those two in transforming roles, it's easy to overlook Ruffalo (who always seems to get overlooked). Dave is the comparison point for both these men. He's a family man who is smart, has accomplished a lot and knows what it truly means to work hard. Ruffalo brings his trademark authenticity to his part as the "good guy" and does it so well.
Even when it's too quiet and languishes, "Foxcatcher" is a fine piece of cinema and Miller has established himself as a true auteur. It certainly does not satisfy in the mainstream sense, but its purposeful use of imagery, total avoidance of melodrama and magnifying glass on the human condition make it an undeniably sharp and intelligent art film to be sure.
~Steven C Thanks for reading! Visit Movie Muse Reviews for more
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