Saturday, 17 January 2015

Foxcatcher 2014

Bennett Miller isn't a name I'd instantly recognise; but name the films he has directed (Capote, Moneyball) and I'd sit up and listen. Even so, nothing could have prepared me for the excellence of Foxcatcher.

Based on a true story, the film revolves around John E. du Pont, the millionaire wrestling enthusiast, who, in 1986, recruited two wrestling champion brothers, Mark and Dave Schultz, to train for and coach a wrestling team for the National, World and Olympic championships. During the course of the story, we watch the megalomaniac du Pont manipulate everyone he comes across, seemingly in a bid to win his mother's respect (which he never receives), and build and destroy the brothers Schultz.

Foxcatcher is being described as a crime drama, because of how this story ends, both in real life and in the film, but I see it as a psycho-drama that is completely unrelenting in its delivery, with not a moment of comfort or calm. It is a straight line of stress from the moment it starts, to the moment it ends. And in that, I think it's a masterpiece, much like Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master (2012).

This film will also be for ever known for its career-defining performances, by Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum. Each one of them has gone out of his way to deliver outstanding work. Carell, who is almost always the lovable character in his films, is utterly deplorable and hateful as du Pont, while Ruffalo and Tatum have given their all in every scene, and acted with their faces and bodies, as much as with the words they deliver. It is truly an exemplary set of performances.

A brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, very-difficult-to-watch-but-must-see film.

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