Wrestling with Demons
When wealthy heir John du Pont (Steve Carell) invites Olympic Gold medal winning wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) to move to his estate and help form a wrestling team for the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Mark sees it as a way to step out of the shadow of his charismatic brother, Dave (Mark Ruffalo) and instantly accepts his offer. However, du Pont begins to lead Mark down a dark path, causing him to lose his self-esteem whilst also becoming fixated on recruiting Dave to 'Team Foxcatcher'. But after succeeding in convincing Dave to join them du Pont realises that he will never buy the respect he so longs for from eitherthe wrestlers or his mother leading to a tragedy.
If a friend asked me to explain "Foxcatcher" to them I know that I would struggle to do it coherently and certainly would struggle to make it sound like a movie they would desperately want to watch. And truth be told I questioned whether I wanted to watch it before I did and having watched it I have no interest in watching it again despite "Foxcatcher" actually being a good movie. It is for me simply one of those movies which you watch, kind of enjoy but not in an entertainment sort of way and then forget about.
The reason for all this is that "Foxcatcher", which for those who don't know is based on a true story, is really a look at the character of John du Pont. Here is a wealthy man who is desperate for respect be it from those he employs to his own mother who you kind of sense has given up on him and can see through his facade when ever he tries to show her that he has others respect. The thing is that whilst we get to see this situation we never get to know what made du Pont the way he was and as such all we get is a glimpse of a man who is desperate for respect but has no idea how to earn it. What we also see is how Mark becomes affected by working with du Pont, and we realise that whilst Mark wants to escape from under the shadow of his charismatic brother du Pont is really using him to get to his brother.
As such "Foxcatcher" is very much a movie about the acting with both Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo delivering strong performances. They bring out that brotherly connection whilst also the distance between them with Mark coming across as struggling with life whilst Dave is confident and comfortable with things. But "Foxcatcher" is a movie where Steve Carell shines as he makes John du Pont a loathsome figure, a man who uses others to try and get what he want with no real feelings for those he might hurt along the way. But Carell also brings out the side of du Pont where you realise he is almost a man child who whilst grown up doesn't understand you need to earn respect and you can't buy it. It is genuinely a very impressive performance from Carell.
What this all boils down to is that "Foxcatcher" is an interesting and well made movie with some very strong performances. But it is also the sort of movie which when you have watched once doesn't really make you want to watch it again.