I actually ruined the story of Foxcatcher for myself, due to me reading into the story of John Du Pont during one late evening. However, as I watched the trailers that thoroughly had me gripped, I realised after my first viewing that if there was a case for a film to be completely different to the trailer, Foxcatcher is that example.
As the cast featured Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum, I thought it was intriguing as they essentially playing roles they’re not initially known for. Especially as Steve Carrell is in a rather make-up heavy serious role and Channing Tatum is also cast in a more serious role than his previous ones of late.
Primarily Foxcatcher is about the recruitment of Olympic medallist Mark Schultz to Team Foxcatcher, set up by John Du Pont, an amateur wrestling enthusiast who also happens to be a millionaire which his own luxurious estate.
Mark (Channing Tatum) is the younger brother of Dave Schultz, (Mark Ruffalo) who is also an Olympic medal-winning wrestler. However, Dave is not so easily swayed by John’s fancy estate and father-figure mentality, as Mark begins his training for the World Championships at the Foxcatcher estate.
Truthfully, I couldn’t help but feel a tiny bit let down by Foxcatcher in general. Admittedly, I did expect a big character fuelled film, but back upped by either action, or increasingly tense scenes. In truth, what I saw unfold was a big character fuelled film, but with gaping amounts of filler before the big tense scenes.
The relationship between John and Mark is interesting, as Mark champions for his affections and attentions. Eventually they do bond in the sense of companionship but also Mark seeing John as the father figure he lacked growing up.
As I mentioned with regards to the trailer and the film being on two different levels tonally, I believed the film to be that John Do Pont had wronged the Schultz and it would be a story of revenge/redemption with the choice shots used throughout the trailer. However, the story as I mentioned has the companionship element and the only sense of vengeance comes from the shutout that Mark experiences when Dave joins Team Foxcatcher.
My reaction to this film is just that it severely lacked the tense element that could’ve been incredible to watch unfold. With how the story plays out the film should’ve been this tense dark unfolding of the characters, but instead the process is drab, pretty much lifeless and over within a matter of seconds.
That being said, the characters drive the very-slow paced plot as the rivalry between Dave and Mark heats up, that springs from Mark seeming to be in Dave’s shadow. Not only this, but Du Pont’s mood swings as he seems to be fine, but then becomes violent and distressed when he wants more effort from Mark and the team.
I thought Channing Tatum’s depiction of Mark was excellent and engrossing as he is a mysterious character. We see him go through many different trails and tribulations, from him living in his brothers shadow, to be then be successful at the Worlds and then smashing up a hotel room, as it comes crashing down around him. There is a incredibly range in motions that Mark goes through and it’s entertaining to watch unfold.
Unfortunately, the way the story played out and the pacing of the film was it’s downfall for me, as the film eventually seems to go on for too long for the big climatic point. Bennett Miller, off the back of Moneyball and Capote did create an interesting look into the true story of Dave and Mark Schultz and their relationship with Du Pont, but I finished the film feeling underwhelmed in a large sense thinking the film could’ve and should’ve been better with the great cast and interesting story.