The story of gold winning Olympic wrestlers Dave and Mark Schultz is not as well known this side of the pond. Director Bennett Miller had success with Moneyball managing to use baseball to tell a smart, witty and effective story. With Foxcatcher Miller has used another loose sports setting, this time, creating a chilling and compelling crime drama.
Audience and critic’s favourite Channing Tatum stars as youngest brother Mark Schultz. At the beginning of the film we see him struggling with poverty and loneliness but still committed to his sport. When the offer of lavish accommodation and the chance to be part of a world beating wrestling team is laid out he jumps at the chance. Mark Ruffalo plays his brother Dave Schultz who takes more convincing. He’s a father and husband and has clearly been better served by their Olympic glory. These are a pair that are not very talkative, but Ruffalo and Tatum both excel in mostly physical performances. There was about 20 minutes of unused footage detailing the brothers’ relationship, it was ultimately boiled down the a scene where they are warming up. They both show a strong understanding of the dance of wrestling and bring angst to their performance that conveys a complex brotherhood.
Steve Carell also provides a magnificent physical performance in the coach role, as privileged, isolated millionaire John du Pont. Carell holds a posture throughout that is both hunched and entitled. He speaks with a nasally accent that makes you question whether he is looking down on you or just clearing his nasal passages. He completely embodies the manipulative man.
Working with Zero Dark Thirty cinematographer Greg Fraser, Miller has not only captured the characterisation but the mood as well. The screen balances reduced colours with the foggy environment. The film drips with pathetic fallacy.
Verdict: A moody, intense character study of a real life crime drama