I was immediately intrigued by Foxcatcher the first time I saw the trailer. The reason? Steve Carell. The film appeared to be the most impressive role of his career thus far – and one that is far different from the Michael Scott we all know him best as. My assumptions were correct.
Foxcatcher is based on real events which took place on the Du Pont family farm (Foxcatcher). John E. Du Pont (Steve Carell) is the heir to the family fortune. However, he hasn’t achieved success on his own, and still finds himself desperate to impress his mother – despite being middle-aged. John reaches out to Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum), a wrestler, who along with his brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo), won gold at the 1984 Olympics. John’s goal is to form a team that he can take to the ’88 Olympics in Seoul, and he believes that the Schultz brothers are his ticket to gold – and finally having a sense of success and accomplishment for himself. Perhaps his mother will finally be proud?
I wasn’t familiar with the story before the film as many viewers will be, and I did not expect the outcome. If you aren’t aware of the actual events that went down at Foxcatcher, I would recommend not looking them up until after seeing the film. I feel Foxcatcher sparks some similar conversations that Gone Girl did for film-goers earlier this fall. At what point does a person’s behavior create cause for concern? At what point should the individuals around John have realized that he’s not mentally stable? At what point would you have left Foxcatcher? Or would you have even gone in the first place?
Steve Carell really shines in this film, and I’d be shocked if he didn’t pick up an Oscar nomination for this role. He picked up a Golden Globe nomination yesterday for the role. Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum also deliver remarkable performances, but they do get overshadowed by Carell.
The pacing of the film is quite slow, and some viewers may even find that aspect boring. It’s not a film for the casual movie-goer. It’s not a happy movie, even though it does have a few moments of laughter. What the film does offer is a fascinating look at ambition and even desperation for acceptance. Even with offers of temptation to do what one loves for small trade-offs, what would you put up with or sacrifice in order to compile?
Foxcatcher won’t have you on the edge of your seat as Gone Girl did, but the intrigue in human behavior is similar and fascinating to watch. It’s definitely one of the best films of 2014, even if it may not be one of the most talked about.