Monday, January 26, 2015


"Foxcatcher" is a tragic creepshow, a sorrowful horror movie, a sad, scary suspense thriller that grimly unwinds with increasing fateful urgency towards its unstoppable, heartbreaking end. 

Steve Carell, who usually plays sad-sack comic roles, plays John E. ("Eagle") DuPont, one of the richest men in the world, scion of the DuPont family, a sad, damaged man-child with Mommy issues, too much money, a social awkwardness that is heartbreaking, self esteem that's delusional, and a mind that's unsettled and unraveling.  Carell's performance is astonishing, his face nearly unrecognizable under a new nose and teeth.  But it's his performance that keeps the viewer riveted by the man at the awful center of this sad drama -- a clumsy, cringe-worthy, socially disconnected, decidedly odd man, his body movements slack and  disorganized, his flat, affectless face and inappropriate conversation inept and disconcerting. For the viewer, Carell's behavior becomes increasingly alarming since anyone familiar with the story knows that this is a tale that is fated to end badly.  But because nobody in the theatre knows just exactly when that will be, the suspense builds to an unnerving level.

The other two players in this tragic troika, are Mark and Dave Schultz, played by Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo respectively.  As presented, they too are damaged, trouble souls whose ambitions and dreams and emotional needs were ripe for DuPont's picking.  Initially Mark, a needy man resentful being in the shadow of his older brother, is lured to Foxcatcher Farms, the DuPont estate, by DuPont, who fashions himself a coach and "leader of men," and who's built an elaborate wrestling training camp, created "Team Foxcatcher," and wants to become the premier center for all US wrestling teams.

Initially, the relationship between Mark, DuPont and the formation of the "Team Foxcatcher" goes well, with Mark winning at the World events and everyone working towards the 1988 Olympics.  Eventually, Mark's older brother is lured to join the enterprise.  He uproots his family and moves them to Foxcatcher Farms to join his brother and the team as a coach. It is a deadly Fata Morgana for both of them.

"Foxcatcher" is one of those films that's difficult to watch because the viewer is as helplessly trapped in its relentless narrative as are the characters -- no way out, this tragedy must play out to the end.  But Carell, Tatum and Ruffalo's  amazing performances makes the horrifying trip well worth it. It won't be a surprise if there isn't  Oscar gold here for  these remarkable performances and for Director Bennett Miller for creating such a powerful, haunting, well made film.



Sewertoons AKA Lynette Tornatzky said...

Spot on review, it was a chilling, haunting film. Really a story well told. It didn't matter if you knew the ending (like American Sniper), it was the getting to it in such a powerful way that counted.

I did not recognize Steve Carell, who in this was unlike his other, comedic self as one could be. Scary, creepy, but real!

As your posting on Selma is in its "moderator phase," I will comment on that film here. Great review! Saw it last night. It was just amazing. Anyone not alive during that era should see it, it really felt like history had come alive with the better production values that hit you as real, the way blurry, fuzzy old TV shots do not. Sad that echoes of those battles just still keep echoing today. If you have not seen it, bring Kleenex.

It was a pleasure to see King come to life again in the acting skills of David Oyelowo. Even though the speeches were not the originals, they were so well written it seems as though they were. As memory fades, and I was youngish and not all that politically aware when all this happened, and the only King speeches one hears now are so scratchy and distorted by bad recording equipment, I don't think then that I could get the full power of them. This actor, with these lines, really made it all immediate and real. What a horror show this country was, and still is in places, maybe just not so overtly so.

Churadogs said...

Oyelowo was amazing. It's a movie that needs to be seen by this new generation as a reminder of where we were and that we are still facing powerful forces determined to drag us back to that ugly time. And since America is most adept at The Great Forgetting, we need to be reminded, again and again and again.

When I think back to Foxcatcher, the first image/feeling that comes to mind is a frozen, cold landscape, even though every scene was actually filmed in summer's green. something about the cinematography, the light captured, the large empty rooms, everything felt cold, cold, cold.

Chilling movie, that's for sure.

Sewertoons AKA Lynette Tornatzky said...