Saturday, February 21, 2015

Foxcatcher - 5 stars out of 10

Foxcatcher - 5 stars out of 10

Maybe I had too high of an expectation for this film due to its five Oscar nominations, including two in acting categories, but “Foxcatcher” was a disappointment.  This is the story of eccentric millionaire John du Pont and his influence on Olympic wrestling… sort-of.  I can usually deal with the artistic liberties that writers take to enhance an historical story, but the inaccuracies really bothered me in this one.  I attribute this to the film’s progression of events being so dry that it almost felt like watching a documentary, especially with the actors’ performances being subtle and not overly emotive.  I enjoy films that create the sense of watching life happen before your eyes, but this only works in a historical film if the information is accurate.  The timeline doesn’t line up (the Schultz brothers never even lived at Foxcatcher at the same time), they make a big deal about the cocaine and then never address it again (probably because it wasn’t significant in real life), and the most important event of the film occurred seven years after the 1988 Olympics, not seven months as shown in the movie, which completely distorts the motivations of du Pont (not to mention that his motivations are never explained or explored).  To quote my wife, “If they weren’t going to make it accurate, they could have at least made it exciting.”  I get the acting choices made my Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, and Channing Tatum, but I don’t get the Oscar nominations.  Each actor has a brief opportunity to show their skills (Tatum and the mirror, Ruffalo at the end), but those moments are a small percentage of their screentime.  It is nice to see Carell breaking out of his shell since he absolutely possesses the ability to be a serious actor, but this was not his best showing.   As far as the homosexual undertones that allegedly exist between du Pont and Mark Shultz, I did not feel that they were apparent during the film.  If the writers wanted to paint du Pont as a homosexual and use that to explain the tension, they could have included some of the controversial events during his time at Villanova; instead, du Pont just comes off as an eccentric.  On a positive note, the set is dead on and the make-up is really impressive (Ruffalo looks exactly like Dave Schultz and Carell is successful transformed).  “Foxcatcher” is an interesting story that has helped me to become better informed on the Schultz brothers and the world of Olympic wrestling, but that is due to all of the research that I had to do afterwards and not the film itself.

[Pictured: Tatum and Ruffalo truly look the part]

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