Call me crazy, but I am not sure Foxcatcher works as a film. It’s definitely not Oscar worthy or even worth watching in a theater. It is an ambitious attempt from director Bennett Miller(Capote, Moneyball) but the overall effect of this film is overly bleak, boring and involves a heavy miscast. When I left the theater, I thought to myself, “Not a bad film but also not really that good.” It’s a sad story so the bleakness is expected but the execution is just erratic. Maybe that’s unfair to Miller due to the subject matter(not bedtime material) but I feel like I was sucker punched here. Promised a juicy steak and got a chewy piece of beef.
What’s the tale of the tape? A true story about a pair of Olympic wrestling brothers(Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo) connecting with a strange, rich and 100 % creepy John Du Pont(Steve Carell) and their lives suddenly become entrenched in opportunity, sadness and ultimately, tragedy. There’s no need to reveal anymore because there isn’t much more to tell.
Carell plays the tortured isolated and needy older man longing for some friendship and the gimmick of his performance shows up too often. All I can see is the prosthetic nose and an actor trying to stretch instead of seeing a true performance. Like his character, Carell just wants to play with the big boys and looks out of place. He is miscast here. I don’t buy his performance and it’s key so the wheels start to roll off the more screen time he gets.
Tatum isn’t given a lot to do here yet look mad as hell. His flight is from gold medal brawler to idealistic mainstream talent to a pile of sad bricks. It’s an intriguing trajectory but save for a few scenes of true rage, it gets old real quick. I am a fan of Tatum and know he can channel deeper drama and pull off these kind of performances but here it is too much of the same. His character goes places but I never feel like he was allowed to travel with Mark Schultz as an actor. Tatum packed on the pounds but lacked the conviction here. It is a true misfortune because there were high hopes going in. He is an actor who will struggle with shedding his pretty boy image and various talents to truly dig into a role. That struggle continues.
Ruffalo is the best part about the film. The wounded warrior of the plot and the only actor here who truly takes a role and runs with it. The man is seriously on a role and can’t be stopped right now. He can be Bruce Banner the Hulk, Dan the Music Producer(Begin Again), or Dave Schultz here. It doesn’t matter which role he chooses. Ruffalo knocks it out. He nails Dave’s walk, mannerisms and the gentle way that he spoke. He doesn’t rely on a physicality or makeup or plastic to give a performance. Ruffalo digs deep into the soul of an honest good man who got caught in between. Ruffalo dares the most and fares the best.
It is best to not look up the true story because it will spoil the big twist of the film and something that unfortunately I sat in my seat waiting for to happen. It’s a climactic blow that comes and goes without saving the previous 120 minutes.
In the end, the film would have worked better as a documentary. The pieces may have aligned better. Cinematically, it doesn’t materialize at all. The focus is all on the wrestling and not the key relationships that started this Greek type tragedy of lost connections and devious jealousy or the aftermath. It’s bleak, bland and as plain as processed turkey breast.
The trailer led me on that a potential power could exist in this film. At the same time, the preview led me to believe that the film was tone deaf and dull. Upon finishing the film, it’s just a letdown. Outside of Ruffalo’s performance, there isn’t one Oscar worthy thing to be found here. Just a boring mess.