Steve Carell‘s performance in Foxcatcher is transformative – both literally and figuratively. The general consensus among the reviewing community is that he excels in this role. You get the feeling there’s something of a surprised tone attached to these comments, but we shouldn’t be surprised at all. Mr. Carell’s career is steeped in comedy; and what harder form of acting is there? I find him highly watchable, whether in The Office, Date Night (yes I liked it) or Crazy, Stupid, Love and he has grasped this dramatic role with fervour.
Telling the story of super-rich John du Pont and his relationship with Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling champion Mark Shultz, Foxcatcher had me utterly transfixed. But let’s not kid ourselves, the epithet “Based on a true story” – which appears at the start of a seemingly increasing number of movies these days – is not a pointer towards the subsequent film being “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” I think Maxwell Scott in The Man That Shot Liberty Valance summed it up best; “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” Much has been said regarding the validity of the “truths” told in Foxcatcher and I’m not going to bring them up again. As a viewer we must ascribe a soupçon of salt to these retellings; it is entertainment after all. The central facts regarding actual documented events cannot be refuted – everything else is frosting.
That said, I do not wish to take anything away from this production. I was extremely excited to see Foxcatcher and it certainly lived up to my expectations. This is by no means a one-man-show either. Both Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo shine in their roles as the wrestling siblings Mark and David Shultz. If you’ve seen the trailers for Foxcatcher, the sense of “oddness” to Mr. du Pont’s demeanor and his relationships with others within his life is clear to see. This uneasiness is palpable throughout the 129 minute running time and makes for a fascinating treatise on the machinations of those privileged few who believe money can buy anything, including friendships.
This is Bennett Miller‘s third directorial feature and it would not be out of place sitting next other great sports films such as Seabiscuit, Any Given Sunday or The Wrestler. Mr. Miller is certainly building a catalogue of top quality films, having previously directed Capote and Moneyball. I for one am looking forward to his next offering. Foxcatcher is an utter success, cinematically and for those involved in its production. I’m glad I saw it and urge you, dear reader, to try to catch it at your local cinema.
Thank you for reading 🙂