This is one grim movie. I’d missed its various festival
showings and deliberately didn’t read anything about Foxcatcher, but I’d heard how good Steve Carell is in it, and
that’s true. As the creepy, repressed billionaire John E. DuPont, he gives an
excellent performance that may well earn him the awards that have already been
predicted. But that doesn’t justify, or salvage, Bennett Miller’s molasses-slow
rendering of the true-life tale involving DuPont and Olympic champion wrestler
Mark Schultz (well played by Channing Tatum). Schultz grew up poor and has
always looked to his big brother John (Mark Ruffalo), also a prize-winning
wrestler, for guidance, support, and love.
The film unfolds in a hushed tone that only serves to
underscore its snail-like pace. If you don’t know where the narrative is
leading it’s especially frustrating, waiting for the story to develop.
Working from a screenplay by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
(the director’s collaborator on Capote),
Miller draws out the development of a relationship between the socially
cloistered DuPont and the unworldly athlete, who becomes the object of his
obsessive interest. By sponsoring the U.S. Wrestling Team and naming himself
coach, DuPont is able to realize some of his dreams, at least second-hand.
I won’t reveal more of the story for those of you who, like
me, somehow missed the headlines when it broke in the late 1980s. But when it’s
all over, there is no sense of resolve, let alone satisfaction: Foxcatcher has no real insights or lessons
to offer. It is merely the iteration of a relentlessly downbeat American tale, a
well-crafted but joyless film that’s notable solely for its leading