Review - Foxcatcher

Foxcatcher (2014), R, 134 minutes - In the beginning, this story doesn't seem all that odd. The Schultz brothers had each won an Olympic gold medal in freestyle wrestling at the 1984 Los Angeles games. While training together in preparation for the upcoming World Championships, Mark (Channing Tatum) accepts a sponsorship offer from millionaire philanthropist John du Pont (Steve Carell) and moves to the private du Pont estate, Foxcatcher Farms in Pennsylvania. Mark conveys that the offer is open to David (Mark Ruffalo) as well. While being completely supportive, David declines, feeling that the time isn't right to uproot his young family.

Mark trains on his own, then helps select other wrestlers to round out the Foxcatcher team. He becomes the group's coach and with the financial freedom to focus entirely on training, he takes home the gold medal at the 1987 World Championships. Capitalizing on the exposure of the world title, Mark joins John at more and more public appearances and has his first encounter with cocaine. His training habits begin to drop off and he feels a bit betrayed when he learns that David has finally agreed to join Team Foxcatcher. At this point, du Pont's involvement becomes more hands on as he takes on the title of coach. This is mostly posturing as he looks for his mother's approval. With John trying to control more and more, Mark's competitive decline, and David's refusal to embrace John the way Mark did, the Foxcatcher dynamic is thrown for a loop. The friction that results is sign of tragic things to come.

Director Bennett Miller weaves this dark tale led by exceptional performances from Carell and Ruffalo. Known primarily as a comedic actor, Carell loses himself in the role of John du Pont, bringing an awkward and quiet yet imposing presence to the film. Ruffalo's turn as David Schultz is equally as impressive as Mark's rock, providing brotherly love and support no matter the situation. On top of that, his every movement oozes life long wrestler. Carell, Miller, and Ruffalo have all received Oscar nominations for this film. And Tatum's portrayal of Mark cannot be overlooked, as he proves that he can be a well rounded actor in his own right.

Foxcatcher may be one of the creepiest films that I have seen from this past year. Based on actual events, its a story that is just as riveting as any thriller. It may not have the historical significance as some of the other biopics currently making the rounds in theaters, but it tells a very intriguing story and is well worth checking out.

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