TIFF 2014 Review: Foxcatcher
Driven by three incredible leading performances, Foxcatcher is a slow, sordid character study and exploration into manliness, loneliness, and desperation.
Based on a true story, this meticulous drama from Bennett Miller, who spent years seeing this project through and won Best Director at Cannes, follows Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum), a former Olympic gold medalist seeking to defend his title. Training with his brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo), Mark’s banal existence involves nothing else; he is disconnected and unacknowledged.
He is soft-spoken but tough, while Dave is a bit more welcoming. He has a family and looks after his younger brother, after all. Enter John du Pont, an eccentric mogul with parental issues who endeavors to sponsor a wrestling team. He throws around words like ‘patriotism’ and ‘freedom,’ and tosses a lot of money and support at Schultz and company.
Steve Carell transforms into du Pont, a man whose words and acts would be funny if they didn’t first elicit fear and anxiety. Something is off with the friendless, childlike benefactor, but it’s something Schultz doesn’t quite understand. He’s from a different world, and swept up by his new mentor.
Tatum is measured in his performance, proving an impressive and cinematic wrestler. Ruffalo too, bulked up, has a certain speech pattern and gait to him that is hypnotic. With Carell, the three disappear into their characters as the audience is immersed in this odd, quiet, and patient world.
Foxcatcher lies in wait until it erupts ever briefly, and then returns to still.