Thursday, November 27, 2014

[Review] Foxcatcher

Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, and Mark Ruffalo give three seriously gripping performances in Bennett Miller's bleak and brutish, true crime story Foxcatcher.

Mark Schultz (Tatum) is the younger brother of Dave Schultz (Ruffalo), and they're both Olympic gold metal wrestlers. There seems to be a bit of a rivalry between them, but this aspect is only skimmed. In a seemingly random manner, Mark receives an invitation to meet John DuPont (Carell), an incredibly wealthy man from a long lineage of power. Oh yeah, and he's crazy. He eventually becomes Mark's mentor & coach, with ambitions to make him "do great things."

The slow-burning tale unfolds with a harsh quietness, along with underlying, boiling tensions. Whether or not you know the conclusion, you get a sense of doom as the end approaches. All three actors find themselves in atypical roles, and they fully disappear into them. Channing Tatum is solid throughout, brooding and misguided. Let's just say it's a much different role from the hilarious Jenko in 22 Jump Street. Mark Ruffalo escapes his frequent 'deadbeat goofball' persona and is a well put-together family man. Steve Carell buries his comic roots and turns in the first real dark and shocking performance of his career, and he does it convincingly well.

But even considering the strong performances, the problem with Foxcatcher is that the film is so cold, distant, and monotonous that it leaves an underwhelming taste in your mouth. It would've been more interesting if the acting had been utilized in different ways in order to create some more memorable scenes, rather than all of the silent scowling.

There's some touches on themes of misplaced patriotism and when the American Dream is taken to the wrong extremes. There's power struggles and advantage-taking, but these ideas are never fully explored, and neither is DuPont's deranged mind. But maybe that's part of the point--it's just a strange and horrific story with mysteries that can't be interpreted. It just leaves you numb.


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