I couldn’t see all the Oscar nominated films before the winners were announced, Foxcatcher being one I pushed to the side. Not so much into wrestling and I wasn’t too enthusiastic about seeing Steve Carrel in a drama. If you had a similar thought, I’ll suggest that you see it at some point, its excellent.
The story of John du Pont (of du Pont chemicals fame) turning his estate, Foxcatcher, into a Olympic wrestling training camp is both interesting for the retrospective, true story and for the shockingly amazing acting from Carrel.
This is an intentionally slow moving character study of both John du Pont and the Schultz brothers. du Pont, a wealthy business tycoon, turns his Pennsylvania estate, Foxcatcher, into a training camp for 1988 Olympic wrestling contenders. Throughout the film you see du Pont has a strained relationship with his constantly disapproving mother which serves as motivation for him constantly trying to win her approval. Even with business success behind him he had to go further to show he was a leader in the large.
The Schultz brothers were both Olympic gold medalists, the younger brother, Mark, living in the shadows of his older brother, who was also his trainer. Mark, with reservations, accepts du Pont’s offer to move to Foxcatcher for training, perhaps in attempt to assert his own identity. After the move, and recruiting more Olympic trainees, du Pont starts to exhibit odd behaviour. People tend to overlook odd and potentially destructive behaviour from the wealthy set, the path of least resistance is to label it with ‘eccentric’. Unfortunately, in this case, eccentric behaviour leads to tragedy.
Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum are excellent portraying the Schultz brother, Ruffalo in particular bearding up and changing his demeanor to an almost unrecognizable state. However, both are completely overshadowed by Carrrel. Makeup and loads of prosthetics helped but Carrel nails both the solemn isolation and dysfunctional motivation behind du Pont’s character, which ultimately lead to his demise.
If you’re interested in character studies in general or just curious about this notorious tragedy, particularly the strange evolution of emotional and psychological factors between du Pont and the Schultz brothers, Foxcatcher is an excellent watch.