Foxcatcher

Film

Drama

Foxcatcher

Time Out rating:

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Time Out says

Mon May 19

Arrestingly made yet oppressively morbid, Bennett Miller’s feeble-brained Foxcatcher focuses, like the director’s Capote (2005), on a true-life crime story. Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) is a world champion wrestler forever living in the shadow of his brother, Dave (Mark Ruffalo), also a gold medalist in the sport. Theirs is a complicated relationship in which issues aren’t talked out but physicalized during tough-and-tender training sessions. (A terrific early scene observes as the duo’s morning tustle moves from filial intimacy to violence and back again.) Perhaps this explains why Mark feels so drawn to John du Pont (Steve Carell), an eccentric multimillionaire who showers him with compliments and invites him to train at the new wresting facility he’s built on his sprawling estate near Valley Forge.

Carell's gun-loving one-percenter—whom the actor plays as a heavy-lidded burlesque of unbridled affluence—sees wrestling as a way to not only make his mark, but to restore a sense of glory to the American empire. (It’s no mistake that Mark’s new gymnasium is located within walking distance of a key site in the Revolutionary War.) Miller sees the parallels between du Pont’s failed, ultimately murderous endeavor and the current state of the U.S., with its pronounced economic divides. Screenwriters E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman even set the events, which actually took place over the course of the 1990s, during the right-leaning 1980s to better drive home the skin-deep political jabs.

The movie’s cynical thesis about the corrupting power of wealth is embedded in every frame: Cinematographer Greig Fraser gives the impeccably composed imagery a grey-toned chilliness and shoots the performers in such a way that they all have the same sickly pallor. You can feel depravity eating away at the characters’ souls long before du Pont offers Mark his first hit of cocaine and the true downward spiral begins. This is all very gripping in the moment, in no small part due to Ruffalo and Tatum, who counter Carell’s awards-baiting garishness with a lived-in sense of brotherly envy and affection. (The sequence in which Dave discovers Mark at a binge-eating low point is especially devastating in its bruised poignancy.) Once Miller lays all his cards on the table, however, you realize you haven’t been watching people struggling with the very real temptations of unchecked privilege, so much as fumbling blindly in a glib, gloomy satire of American exceptionalism.

Follow Keith Uhlich on Twitter: @keithuhlich

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Release details

US release:

2014

Duration:

130 mins

Cast and crew

Cast:

Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo

Director:

Bennett Miller

Screenwriter:

E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman

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Micah B

Why did Rotten Tomatoes feature this? This article lacks everything, from reasoning, to correct grammar. It's as if a 4th grader found a dictionary.

Micah B

Why did Rotten Tomatoes feature this? This article lacks everything, from reasoning, to correct grammar. It's as if a 4th grader found a dictionary.