Director: Bennett Miller
Writers: Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye
Cast: Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Vanessa Redgrave
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics

“Foxcatcher” was a film that has been on my radar since reading Mark Schultz’s book. Plus, I’m a huge fan of the underrated Bennett Miller. I hate throwing underrated around like loose change, but there are so many talents working today that deserve more love from the mainstream. John du Pont and the tale of his Foxcatcher team makes for the material you’d see on “30 on 30”, but it slips past most casual viewers. Basically, du Pont was an heir to a vast fortune and he wanted to find purpose in life. Specifically, he wanted to pay to create a super Olympic wrestling team to honor the United States and get in his mother’s good graces.

Carell and Tatum deserve nominations and possible wins for what they bring to the table. While Ruffalo’s role as the older Schultz brother is strong and important to the narrative, it just feels like we got more with the Carell and Tatum relationship. Carell plays du Pont as wanting to take over Tatum. While Tatum just wants someone to say he’s good. It’s like a crazy old man getting a puppy and then forcing that dog into every aspect of his life.

Having read the source material and possessing a working knowledge of the case, the film does take liberties at point. But, the heart of the matter is conveyed. John du Pont was an unhealthy man that was allowed to run unchecked because of his class privilege. Everyone on Team Foxcatcher was a pawn to be used and abused him for his fleeting goals. What would Team Foxcatcher have done if they got to the Atlanta Olympic Games unscathed? It’s a fascinating bout of What If, as we ponder alternate futures for a madman leading around gifted athletes by the nose. I’d love to see Mark Schultz participate in a proper documentary to further investigate certain aspects of the case. But, let’s just get this film out of the gates first.

The film made me cringe so much that I was surprised by my involuntary reactions. I had read the book and was really familiar with the case. Still, I was acting like I was discovering the tale for the first time. Watching uncomfortable recreations of reality just makes me want to crawl out of my skin. It’s sort of an interesting quirk that I’ve learned about myself, but I haven’t been able to shake it for years. While I believe the film will do well come Oscar time, I would like some studio to release a retrospective of Miller’s fact-based adaptations.


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