Brothers and Olympic Gold medallists; Mark and Dave Schultz join illustrious multimillionaire John du Pont in an attempt to fire the USA to further sporting acclaim. Tension, jealousy, and tragedy all unravel as they aspire for glory.
The film excels at creating a fraught and unsettling tension (with the help of Greig Fraser’s excellent quietly gloom-ridden cinematography) which all leads toward a tragic climax. At times the pacing feels too slow and lifelessly cold yet it’s characters and their complex relations keep you captivated. It doesn’t quite focus on the right aspects of the story either. Accounts in Foxcatcher: The True Story of my Brother’s Murder, John du Pont’s Madness, and The Quest for Olympic Gold recall how du Pont had displayed signs of schizophrenia such as talking to walls, believing spirits and spies were living amongst him in his mansion, and how he believed the clocks built into his treadmills were transporting him back in time. The film illustrates many of his drug problems along with other emotional issues but doesn’t quite analyse with enough depth elucidating why he murdered Dave Schultz. Rather, it solely focuses on the complex relationship he has with the two brothers and his own mother. Which brings me onto how the film highlights a theme of acceptance – The central idea of this desire for approval or recognition damages the film’s ability to emphasise its intentionally dramatic climax. Had it focussed more on the characters individual complexities then I think it would have contributed towards the tension more effectively.
The most captivating element of the whole film has to be the three lead actors: Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Steve Carell. Tatum is brilliant at portraying an introverted tortured young Mark Schultz with the pressures of the world on his shoulders. His performance shows maturity and a much edgier side to what we’re used to seeing from him. Ruffalo excels at displaying the physical yet compassionate presence of Dave Schultz. It’s as solid a performance as you’d expect from the ‘Buffalo’. For me though, (an almost completely unrecognisable) Steve Carell steals the show. Having seen photos and documentary footage of du Pont, his physical presence is pretty much duplicated by Carell. I particularly find his performance so astounding because there is still a subtle recognisable aspect to Carell in his portrayal to the point that he plays his own version of du Pont – opposed to making an impersonation or caricature. Let’s hope the man famous for playing Michael Scott continues his foray into dramatic film (especially if it’s as impressive as this performance).
The film can feel a little too cold and slow but its inventive take on this compelling tragic true story along with incredibly powerful performances make a very gripping watch.
4 Prosthetic Noses out of 5
by Simon Garganera Price