Granger on Movies: 'Foxcatcher'
Based on true events, Bennett Miller's chilling crime drama reveals the ultimately tragic relationship between John Eleuthere du Pont, a delusional, eccentric multi-millionaire and two freestyle wrestling champions.
Brothers Mark (Channing Tatum) and Dave (Mark Ruffalo) Schultz are preparing for the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics when they catch the attention of lonely, socially inept 57-year-old John du Pont (Steve Carell), a wrestling aficionado who lives on Foxcatcher Farm, a 416-acre horse-racing compound on Philadelphia's Main Line that's owned by his elderly, imperious mother (Vanessa Redgrave).
Impressed by the du Pont wealth and dynastic stature as the largest chemical company in the world, taciturn 27 year-old Mark becomes John's protege, moving into a sumptuous guest cottage and submitting to the strict discipline and loneliness that's enforced by his benefactor/surrogate father, who is a passionate patriot and devoted philatelist, dabbling in ornithology.
But, eventually, dour, inarticulate Mark realizes that the counsel and training he needs can only come from his devoted older brother Dave, who is -- at first -- reluctant to uproot his wife (Sienna Miller) and two young children from Colorado to the Valley Forge area. Eventually, however, not only Dave but the entire U.S. Olympic wrestling team makes Foxcatcher Farm their state-of-the-art headquarters. Until one, ill-fated night ...
Scripted by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman, built on the meticulously detailed research of director Bennett Miller ("Capote," "Moneyball"), the multi-layered, performance-driven concept becomes subtly compelling because of how Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum embody the subtext of their characters.
Wearing a large prosthetic nose, Carell is almost unrecognizable as creepy, obsessed John du Pont, who is relentlessly desperate to impress his disapproving mother. His nasal voice is halting and hollow, reflecting his contemptuous paranoia and underlying emotional insecurity. In contrast, amiable Ruffalo is in full command of the wrestler's mentality, which is matched by Tatum's physicality and perpetually simmering resentment.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Foxcatcher" is a sorrowful, sordid 7, oozing bizarre homoeroticism and brutal violence.
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