Steve Carell and Channing Tatum teamed up for Foxcatcher.
Foxcatcher (M, 134 minutes) Directed by Bennett Miller **** ½
After adding dramatic depth to Jonah Hill’s resume with his previous film Moneyball, director Bennett Miller then decided to change the audience’s perception of a trio of famous actors with this chilling, fact-based tale from 2014.
The jaunty Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers) and the bizarre Steve Carell (Get Smart) are practically unrecognizable, while Channing Tatum (Magic Mike) expresses his undoubted charisma on the screen to the point of playing the tormented Olympic fighter Mark Schulz.
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Despite his success at the Los Angeles Olympics, Mark has always lived in the shadow of his older brother Dave (Ruffalo). And while Dave has a coaching job, a wife (Sienna Miller), and a child, Mark only gets conversational commitments that his brother can’t attend.
So when he gets a phone call from the mysterious John du Pont (Carell), he takes the opportunity to hear the wrestling lover’s proposal to support a gold medal assault at the Seoul Olympics.
All that the self-proclaimed ornithologist, philatelist, philanthropist and patriot wishes is for Mark and a carefully selected team to reside on the vast Foxcatcher farm in du Pont and show some respect for their new “coach”.
He’s also desperate for Dave to join Team Foxcatcher, but his older brother may require a little more persuasion.
Foxcatcher is now available to stream on Netflix.
Bear this seemingly cold and calculated character study, because Foxcatcher is a slow-burning story that engages you and turns into a dramatically dramatic ending.
Although told in a much more aloof and pessimistic way (naturalism abounds, aside from David Bowie’s clever use of Fame), there are similarities to the Oscar-winning David Fincher’s The Social Network in his dissection of a report. business gone bad, a wrestling match (here literally as well as figuratively) of ego and personality and a powerful man struggling to connect with the rest of the world.
Yes, there are echoes of Jesse Eisenberg’s Mark Zuckerberg in Carell’s dissociative du Pont, but there are also memories of Chauncey Gardiner, Mr Burns (especially with that prosthetic nose), Gru from Despicable Me and Norman Bates, while the “Eagle gold “tries to impress the one person in his life who apparently can’t (it doesn’t help that they consider wrestling” a bad sport “).
Carell could easily have portrayed him as a funny figure but, to his credit, he delivers a nuanced performance that even manages to evoke some sympathy before the final twists cement du Pont’s legacy.
His restraint efforts are accompanied by a brooding Tatum and a superb Ruffalo (who put on more than 13 kilograms for the role), the latter’s character who combines bony muscularity with surprising sensitivity.
Their relationship is key to the film and evokes memories of The Fighter’s Wahlberg-Bale rivalry. They are so good.
Some might harness the simplification and condensation of the story (some dates are wrong and there isn’t much talk about the brothers’ allegations of excessive brutality at the Los Angeles Olympics), but as a fun and dramatic recreation of a heartbreaking sports success story. gone bad, Foxcatcher is hard to beat.
Foxcatcher is now streaming on Netflix.