Friday, February 20, 2015

FOXCATCHER

Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo,
Steve Carell, Vanessa Redgrave,
Sienna Miller


Next up for our movie marathon here in HK is another compelling true story. A disturbingly dark drama about sports, wealth, and murder. Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo portray Mark and David Schultz respectively. They are brothers and champions of the U.S. wrestling team, both gold medalist Olympians. They are commissioned by the reclusive billionaire John Du Pont (Steve Carell) to spearhead a training unit for the U.S. team to achieve success in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. This is done on the du Pont sprawling estate known as Foxcatcher.

The film shows the different paths the Schultz brothers embark upon once training begins. Mark who has always been insecure about his capabilities spirals out of control. He loses motivation and barely makes the U.S. Olympic team. Dave does better in coaching but is sidetracked by concerns about his sibling's attitude as well as the odd relationship that develops between Mark and the creepy John du Pont. It is vague to say the least. There are implications of intimacy or it might just be the eccentricities of a lonely tycoon who is clearly a deranged figure. He seems to be driven by a fierce patriotism and is convinced that America is losing its glory so he's determined to see it soar again. By putting together a formidable U.S wrestling team is his way to achieve that myopic goal.

Steve Carell as the creepy John du Pont delivers a powerful performance. It is completely focused and profound pretty much like the wealthy industrialist. Carell is precise and sturdy as his character is certainly not a beloved figure. Almost unrecognizable with all those heavy facial make up to resemble du Pont, Carell sinks deeply into the character of a man whose hope for his country is shadowed by his self doubts and his constant need for approval from his demanding mother. Certainly a tragic figure who had good intentions but the method he chose to achieve them had lethal consequences. 

The director allows an in depth understanding of all the motives yet there were also a fair amount of ambiguity. He draws out scenes that offer much to the narrative but there is still so much left out that we do not know about as well. 

"Foxcatcher" is quite dark and contains disturbing material which may not appeal to everybody. It is about many things - sports, sibling rivalry, the clash of egos but most of all it explores the liberties and constraints that come with the effect of vast wealth. We might be able to buy whatever we want but it won't feed a hungry soul that longs for something money can never buy! That in itself is the sad part of this psychological drama.

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