Take a Drink: whenever John du Pont (Steve Carell) takes credit for someone else’s accomplishment
Take a Drink: whenever someone name-checks “Foxcatcher”
Drink a Shot: for each competitive wrestling match
Yes, that is Anthony Michael Hall! (Drink any time he appears)
By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Two Beers) –
Brothers Mark and Dave Schultz are Olympic Gold Medalists in Wrestling who are training together in an effort to prepare for the next competition. Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) is the younger of the two, and is struggling with his own identity, having been in his older brother’s shadow his whole life. Mark is envious of his brother Dave’s (Mark Ruffalo) relative financial stability and family life, which he hasn’t been able to match. One day, seemingly out of the blue, Mark gets a call from a representative of John du Pont (Steve Carell), an immensely wealthy heir to the Du Pont family fortune. Du Pont says that he is an avid supporter of athletics and offers Mark a chance to fund his training, a generous salary, and a place to live and train on his property. At first this seems like the perfect deal for Mark, but as time goes on, Du Pont’s eccentricities begin to appear more and more unsettled.
Director Bennett Miller (Moneyball) has crafted a film that explores three unique players in a very strange (and real) story. Mark Schultz is drawn into John du Pont’s world out of necessity. Having just won his Gold Medal in the Olympics, he is struggling to find direction, and sees Du Pont’s offer as a chance to keep training. Olympic Athletes are often in danger of peaking early, and Mark has no plans for his life besides what he’s trained for. Dave Schultz is at first reluctant to take up Du Pont’s offer, as he is focused on supporting his family. And John du Pont’s motives are never fully clear, though his icy relationship with his disapproving mother seems to dominate much of his thoughts.
Even filmgoers who do not know the history behind the story are left with a distinct sense of impending tragedy. Bennett Miller keeps the pressure on each character, and the audience in suspense. So much so that the film’s dark, sardonic sense of humor may not seem obvious to all audiences, especially upon initial viewing. Laughs come out of some of the most unconventional places, often in advance of something tragic.
The film’s biggest flaw comes with the final resolution of the story. The film ends rapidly following an intense turning-point, and doesn’t take time to summarize its themes or give its characters a moment of reflection. There is an empty feeling at the film’s denouement which leaves me to speculate that this story simply doesn’t have an ending, or at least not one the screenwriters could come up with. In a way, I can see what the filmmakers might have been trying for here; in not showing more, they may be commenting on the seeming non-logic to the actions taken in the climax. This would make sense if the events earlier in the film hadn’t made so infinitely clear that tragedy was just around the corner.
Foxcatcher is a dark journey into a strange world of wealth, power, self-deception, and finally madness.