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Foxcatcher

December 1, 2014

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John du Pont: You’re going to do great things, Mark.

Foxcatcher is a riveting psychological thriller from director Bennett Miller.  His direction is glorious as the story moves along with a great amount of tension that rises as the stakes are heightened.  It’s nice to see a movie that is equal parts engrossing and terrifying.  It’s always fascinating to see just how crazed of a reaction a film can manifest.  It left me feeling shocked, dejected and wretched.  Foxcatcher works due to an impeccable cast featuring Steve Carrell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo all at their very best in career-defining performances.

Foxcatcher is a multilayered story that follows millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carrell), a coach who carries a passion for the sport of wrestling.  He lives on Foxcatcher Farm, which headlines as the name of his wrestling team.  As John looks for ways to increase his reputation, he encounters Olympic Gold Medal winning wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and recruits him for his wrestling team.  Despite that accolade, Mark feels that he’s always been living in the shadow of his brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo).  Soon after, John ends up recruiting Dave as well.  Throughout all of this, John struggles with his obsession to create the ultimate wrestling team as he attempts to impress his mother in the process, while Mark struggles with his identity.

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Foxcatcher’s eeriness sets the tone for an upsetting movie.  Bennett Miller doesn’t set out to entertain, he sets out to inform.  This is as much a biography as it is a drama.  Miller’s last two movies (Capote and Moneyball) were both thrilling biographies and Foxcatcher really cements the sort of tone his movies take.  It’s very dark.  The emotional toll that the characters take is incredibly intense.  The amount of stress Tatum’s character is put through is self-harmful and brooding.

Steve Carrell, sporting a prosthetic nose and an asinine attitude, is an absolute marvel as John du Pont.  Carrell’s presence is surprising and unmatched.  It’s a complete transformation.  Not only did Carrell have to alter his physical appearance, he changed the way he spoke and adopted new mannerisms to be du Pont.  The way du Pont is characterized as a man-child is remarkable.  The thought that he’ll never live up to his mother’s expectations of him shows that there is more than meets the eye.  Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo are additionally marvelous.  They sink into these roles and become their characters.  These three performances are sure to gain nominations, if not wins.

If anything else, go see Foxcatcher for the performances.  It’s really the best ensemble cast of the year alongside The Grand Budapest Hotel. It’s also one of the best films of the year.  You don’t want to miss out on this.

Foxcatcher: 4 ½ out of 5

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