A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Sporting history is full of iconic moments, legendary stories and unfathomable records. It’s sadly also riddled with stories that paint the entire field in a much darker tone, addressing the ongoing issues of abuse, fixation and tragedy. Where it becomes controversial is the well known fact that in this day and age, the latter tales of infamy and affliction often translate better onto the silver screen, lending an incomprehensible story that only a film could justify.
Bennet Miller, the director of “Moneyball”, a comparitively more inspirational picture than his latest, has released “Foxcatcher”; a harrowing exploration into various issues such as greed, desire and control, all in the name of success. It’s an Oscar-focused film with amazing performances throughout, and it’s one that will linger for a long while after it’s conclusion…
The story of brothers Mark and David Schultz (Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo), professional wrestlers and Olympic champions is that of “Foxcatcher”. The brothers are persuaded to join ‘Team Foxcatcher’, a newly established cohort founded and funded by Billionaire “Ornithologist, philatelist, philanthropist”, John du Pont (played by the unrecognisable Steve Carell).
With the desire, patriotism and unwavering sense of ambition required for forthcoming Olympic glory, du Pont stops at nothing in order to get the most out of his talent, and from then on, things become tense, ominous and immensely strange…
I must strongly recommend that if you are unaware of the story that inspired “Foxcatcher”, that you do not seek it any further. Not knowing the conclusion to this tale will only prove as a service to the experience.
Sadly, curiosity is an innate quality of human beings, and seeing as I was denied the chance to see “Foxcatcher” at an earlier date in Dublin due to a packed theatre, I looked it up. It must also be said that knowing the outcome of events doesn’t ruin the film in any significant way, it’s just that not knowing where things will end up is half the fun in a film. So take my advice and go in with an empty mind if you can.
What the buzz is really about focuses on the performances within the film. Most notably from the outside looking in, is that of Steve Carell. As previously stated, Carell is virtually unrecognisable behind the layers of prosthetics and false teeth, which transform him into an eery figure of a man. He is fantastic, and the performance is definitive for his career without a doubt, but personally, I believe it is the efforts of Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum that carry the story along so well. Beneath the ego, the wealth and the control of du Pont, “Foxcatcher” is truly about a brother’s relationship with the other, and the support, conflict and uneasy backstory they both have endured. The chemistry between Ruffalo and Tatum is so impressive and brutally realistic, the dialogue, mannerisms and actions of the pair really strike numerous emotional punches.
Both have significant arks over the journey, and their separate relationships with du Pont only add to the dramatic flare of the film overall.
Influence and support are major thematic elements within “Foxcatcher”, and what makes them work so well through Miller’s direction is the inclusion of hard-hitting extraneous variables such as power and obsession, but the darker side of it all. Amid the cold, chilling fog, the extended takes and the desaturated colour pallet of the film lurks an undesirable core full of the ugly side of the sporting world, but what lies even deeper is the honest look at America as a nation.
Scott Foundas’ quote on the above poster is something I could not agree with more after viewing this film.
“Foxcatcher” impressed me quite a lot, but I will never watch it again. There are films like this that are fantastic in their own right, but can only be viewed once. See this film, admire the performances and observe the reality of what is competitive sport’s infamous underbelly for yourself.
We hear about tales such as this, but learning that they occurred less than 30 years ago and continue to do so is the most frightening knowledge of all…