Whilst initially strange, the line between comedy and drama isn’t as huge as one would think. Those well versed in comedy usually are able to embody some drama in any situation. This is why Steve Carrell is so good in Foxcatcher. Already garnering praise, it provides him with a career-best performance in a very engaging film.
Dave (Mark Ruffalo) and Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) are Olympic medal winning wrestlers. Seeking sponsorship to train for the 1988 Olympics, wealthy heir John du Pont (Steve Carrell) comes to their aid. Desperate to achieve respectability, du Pont allows the brothers to train at his estate, Foxcatcher. Increasingly moving under his control, the brothers discover a darker side to du Pont’s suave demeanour. Soon the trio’s lives would take unexpected and deadly turns.
It would be remiss to say Foxcatcher belongs to Steve Carrell. Whilst he is amazing in his role, Ruffalo and Tatum provide equally fine performances. All fully embody their characters with Dave’s calm disposition and Mark’s head-strong nature affecting du Pont’s viewpoints. A strange, sad, pathetic sociopath, du Pont’s embracing of the Schultz’s brother’s ambitions is often eerie. Through them du Pont validates his sense of worth as, despite his immense inherited wealth, his existence hasn’t amounted to much.
Director Bennett Miller wisely underplays the intense script by discarding the temptation to use melodramatic music to highlight the drama. Instead he allows the personal relationships slowly to percolate into a crescendo of taut anxiety. The cinematography effectively serves his bleak vision with the differing weather seasons mirroring the change in mood between characters.
Foxcatcher marks Carrell’s entry into more serious roles. Hopefully he’ll continue in his popular comedic ones as well. In the meantime Foxcatcher gives notice of another dramatic talent giving a fine performance in a consistently gripping true-life tale.
Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Rating out of 10: 7