Foxcatcher has garnered five Academy Award nominations: Best Director (Bennett Miller), Best Actor (Steve Carell), Best Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo), Best Orginal Screenplay (E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman), and Best Makeup (Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard). In the movie we are treated to the psychosis of yet another mental case. Stories of psychotic characters seem to be the order of the day in many of the front-runners for major awards this season. In the case of Foxcatcher, the loon is an actual person, not a character created out of the writer’s imagination. Steve Carrell, who is known more for his comedic roles but has proven himself as a dramatic actor, is well-deserving of his Oscar nomination for his portrayal of eccentric billionaire John DuPont. Mark Ruffalo is no less deserving in his supporting role of wrestling champion and coach Dave Schultz, who is eventually murdered by DuPont.
DuPont, it seems, had an obsession for the sport of wrestling. His dream was to establish an elite training facility for all the best wrestlers in the nation; a place to come and build a champion U.S. Olympic team. And of course, it’s much easier to realize those types of dreams when you’ve more money than good sense, and you happen to live on an 800 acre estate! After building the training facility on his family estate, Foxcatcher Farm (located in Delaware County, Pennsylvania), his next move was to obtain the services of Mark (Channing Tatum) and David Schultz, brothers who were both wrestling gold medalists in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, to head Team Foxcatcher. He is turned down by Dave who does not want to uproot his family, but Mark readily accepts DuPont’s offer and sees it as his opportunity to come out from under his brother’s shadow. In the course of their relationship, DuPont gets Mark hooked on cocaine and continually presses him to convince his brother to join them. Eventually, DuPont makes David an offer he can’t refuse. After coming aboard, Dave finds that he and DuPont have differing managerial styles for training, which keep them at odds. DuPont was not emotionally equipped to have anyone differ with him or question him in any way.
Carrell does an excellent job of taking on the persona of John DuPont, right down to the prosthetic nose and imitating his voice. The production values in Foxcatcher are flawless, and the acting from Channing, Ruffalo, and Carrell is right on the nose, so to speak. Vanessa Redgrave plays DuPont’s mother, whom he can never satisfy. Redgrave’s being part of this cast is just the cherry on top.
The storyline for Foxcatcher is indeed a sad one, rife with human frailty and dysfunctional relationships those frailties sometimes bring about. DuPont was sent to prison on a third-degree murder charge for the 1996 shooting death of David Schultz. He died in prison in 2010 of pulmonary disease.
I wanted more from the movie, not acting wise, but it is missing motivations in my view for some of the action taking place. I didn’t feel the “whys” were totally successfully addressed. It is not that I need to even be clubbed in the face with motivations, but I feel there was too much unanswered from scene to scene. Anyhow, that’s the way I see it.