Foxcatcher (15)

Directed by Bennett Miller
Starring Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Vanessa Redgrave, Sienna Miller

This film has had rave reviews but for me, despite excellent performances, it was slow and too ponderous. It tells the true story of an eccentric millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell in distracting prosthetic make up) and his unhealthy obsession with US Olympic champ wrestlers Mark and Dave Schultz (Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo). Du Pont sets the struggling athletes up with a fancy training facility at his estate, but the relationship is an odd one, largely due to du Pont being a weirdo nutter! Considering how little happens (all the shocking action occurs in the last 10 minutes) we spend far too long on the build up, and watching men in leotards grappling with each other. Du Pont's interest in hunky Mark is a little suspicious - especially a late night practice wrestle where a drunk du Pont seems to be a bit too into the floorwork shall we say! This is also very much a male perspective film. The women are insignificant except for the silent disapproving cold stare of Vanessa Redgrave as du Pont's mother. Her lack of empathy with her son is clearly a factor in his desire to be admired and looked up to. As a study of a poor little rich boy gone rogue, it works but I really disliked Steve Carell's mannered performance. The fake nose and yellow teeth and the odd voice are not even that accurate I hear. I suppose it adds to the sense of how strange he was though - and Carell has never been more repellent and off putting. Maybe that make it a great performance as he is usually so likeable. Channing Tatum is the star for me. He is a man with the single minded goal of being the best wrestler, and we see that focus cost him his dignity and self respect when he bows to du Pont and takes his money. Ruffalo, like Carell, is hidden behind glasses, beard and mad haircut which is a little distracting. There is a lot to find interesting in this story and the film is well made, but for me it was poorly paced and centred on people I didn't find that likeable in a sport that holds no appeal. Disappointlngly dull. 5/10

December 2014.

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