Foxcatcher (2014): Ambition, Power, Control

Posted: February 21, 2015 in Biography, Drama, Sport
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foxcatcher__spanAlways in the shadow of his older brother, Dave Schultz, Mark Schultz grows restless and frustrated. When he is approached by the wealthy John du Pont about starting a team and moving out to his estate, Mark seizes the opportunity. Seemingly with more respect and support than he feels he has ever received, Mark starts to build his confidence with his training for the next world games. Unfortunately for du Pont, Mark’s newly-developed friendships with the team and interactions with du Pont have also caused him to lose focus. Du Pont admits that he would prefer Mark to convince Dave to join the team, but Mark only makes one attempt before feigning effort toward getting his brother to join. As challenges develop at the preliminaries for the Olympics, Dave gets involved and is lured to continue working with Team Foxcatcher.

Review: This was a film of excellent acting and a surprisingly eerie storyline, but above all were the performances by Steve Carell (John du Pont) and Mark Ruffalo (Dave Schultz). Playing the tempered but obsessed du Pont, Carell truly transformed his career with this role. The soft-spoken nature that he brings to the screen initially hides the deep-seeded insanity that reveals itself as the plot develops. Du Pont’s supportive obsession caused him to ignore the affect he had on others, particularly the corrupting affect he had on Mark. This was Carell’s best role of his career, at least when it comes to movies.

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While Mark’s attempt at significance and glory was certainly central to the story, the more interesting conflict was the brotherly feud over their definitions of work and success. While Channing Tatum (Mark Schultz) presented the more naive and impressionable younger brother, Mark Ruffalo’s (Dave Schultz) appeared to be the more measured and emotional performance. Possibly due to his story arc or his position opposite Carell, Ruffalo just appeared to be the most intriguing of the two Schultz brothers. While out for the same goal, Dave had found a way to be a success in the sport and in life, while Mark always felt less than his accomplishments.

The dark tone of the film truly helped to accentuate the individual performances. As du Pont continued to fall deeper into madness, he dragged Mark down with him. When it all got to be too much for Mark, he found a way to quit, but it did not stop du Pont’s obsession with winning or exerting his will. Though slow-moving at times, the cast were able to make the most of the experience.

Dan’s Rating: 4.0/5

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