Foxcatcher - 4 Stars
This dark, suspenseful film has some pace issues, but is driven by wonderful performances from Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo.
Foxcatcher tells the story of Olympic Gold Medal-winning wrestler Mark Schultz, who sees a way out from the shadow of his more celebrated wrestling brother Dave and a life of poverty when he is summoned by eccentric multi-millionaire John du Pont to move onto his estate and train for the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Desperate to gain the respect of his disapproving mother, du Pont begins "coaching" a world-class athletic team and, in the process, lures Mark into dangerous habits, breaks his confidence and drives him into a self-destructive spiral.
One of the most powerful tools this movie uses is utter silence. These moments make the audience feel tense and uncomfortable, drawing them closer into the character’s story. Another clever tool this movie uses is fast cuts for scene transitions. Sometimes the pace of the movie feels a little too slow (though I never checked my watch), but the clever editing technique of “fast cutting” makes the audience feel like the story is moving quite fast.
While there are many wonderful film techniques on display in this film nothing outshines the performances of the leading cast. Steve Carell is almost unrecognizable as John du Pont, through the clever use of make up and a prosthetic nose the comedic actor is instantly transformed. Carell’s performance is probably the best in his career, while he may have previously been type-cast in comedic films this role proves he has the ability to give a superb dramatic performance. He brings a dark tone to the role that is present in all his scenes and also a sense of foreboding comes through when he delivers his lines.
Channing Tatum, who plays Mark missed out on an Oscar nomination and while he is the weakest member of the leading cast he still gives a strong performance. Mark Ruffalo gives a strong performance, but his scenes are limited and he doesn't get the opportunity to display his talents as Carell does.
Overall director Bennett Miller has created an extraordinary bio-pic that had the whole audience tense and nervous at points, then gasping as one towards the end of the film! People who don’t know the story will find this film more enjoyable than those who are familiar with the ending.
Review by Benjamin Maio Mackay
Screening courtesy of Palace Nova Cinemas