CGB Review of Foxcatcher (2014)

Have you ever wanted to see Michael Scott’s dark side?  Then this is the movie for you!

This is my review of Foxcatcher!


This is the tragic true story of Mark and Dave Schultz, two U.S. Olympic Wrestling champions who join Team Foxcatcher, which is led by multimillionaire John E. du Pont.  The brothers train to compete in the 1988 games in Seoul, South Korea.  However, a chasm between the brothers divides them as Mark finds himself in the clutches of John du Pont’s manipulation.

The Hits
To prepare for the role, Steve Carell watched 100 hours of footage of the real John du Pont and it shows in his performance.  Like J.K. Simmons in Whiplash, Steve Carell is another guy who needs to play antagonists more often.  Where Simmons’ Terrence Fletcher was the erupting volcano spewing lava on those who displeased him, Carell’s John du Pont is the slow burn, the blue flame under the kettle.  This is the kind of man who could start a cult.  On the surface, he seems like a harmless man who would give you a passing “hello” on the city bus.  However, he has a way of appealing to the needs of people who lack a sense of personal identity.  He starts off as a kind, attentive father figure, then gradually shows his true colors as a chilling, methodical coach.  In all honesty, I’m kind of scared to watch reruns of The Office now.  Just watch his performance and you’ll be thinking the same thing.
For a movie that is both a sports flick and a psychological drama, the two genres blend together very well.  Wrestling is a backdrop while the main focus is the parasitic relationship between Mark Schultz and John du Pont.

The Misses
We need to talk about Channing Tatum.  Between this, Dear John and Jupiter Ascending, it seems to me that he is uncomfortable with getting too emotional.  In scenes that require him to become enraged, he comes off as mildly annoyed.  To his credit, his face can be expressive, but his dialogue and his reactions are lacking.

While I’m not a fan of sports movies, I was intrigued by the atmospheric, escalating tension of Foxcatcher.  Steve Carell is unrecognizable as an arguably dangerous character because evil comes in subtle packages and often when your guard is down.
I will end this review with a quote that best sums up the impact of this film:
“As a society changes, as what’s held sacred and who’s empowered shifts, so do the paths through which evil enters in, the prejudices and blind spots it exploits.  So don’t expect tomorrow’s predators to look like yesterday’s. Don’t expect them to look like the figures your ideology or philosophy or faith would lead you to associate with exploitation.  Expect them, instead, to look like the people whom you yourself would be most likely to respect, most afraid to challenge publicly, or least eager to vilify and hate.
Because your assumptions and pieties are evil’s best opportunity, and your conventional wisdom is what’s most likely to condemn victims to their fate.”
–Ross Douthat

Saint Sebastian, pray for us.

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