REVIEW: Foxcatcher | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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fiveDirector: Bennett Miller
Starring: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo
Run Time: 134 minutes
Certificate: 15

The story of John Du Pont (“of the Du Pont Family”) and his descent into madness as he attempted to transform his country pile into a centre of excellence for US Olympic wrestling is well known, particularly in the USA, where the events of 1996 are still fresh in the memory, but Bennett Miller’s masterful sketch of those fateful days is a marvel of film-making, and a delicate handling of the tragedy that unfolded.

Pitched perfectly in a rare dramatic outing by Steve Carell, Du Pont casts an eerie glow each time he is on screen. His buglike intensity and pallid complexion appear inhuman in the coldest of ways, and this contrasts perfectly with the genuine warmth and humility which exudes from brothers Mark and Dave Schultz (portrayed impeccably by Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo respectively), who together play the key pieces in Du Pont’s quest for greatness, and a wonderful counterpoint to his delusions of grandeur.

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Foxcatcher is a work of immense foreboding

Whilst the characters in the foreground hurtle towards tragedy, Vanessa Redgrave hovers at the rear of the piece, her riff on the Hitchcockian “mother” figure weighing heavily over Du Pont’s every move. Her callous dismissal of her son’s few sporting triumphs is wonderfully delivered, and it is one of the few scenes in which his humanity shines through. whilst Carell makes it nigh on impossible to pity Du Pont, the viewer can at least empathise with him, to an extent.

Foxcatcher is a work of immense foreboding, and whilst the destination is unavoidable, the route upon which Miller takes the viewer is handled beautifully. This is a morality tale of stupendous excess, a tribute to sporting greatness and a warning against making money your master, all against the backdrop of what is traditionally a most grounded and disciplined sport. It isn’t a pleasant watch, but it is an essential one.

Foxcatcher comes to the Tyneside Cinema from Friday 9th January.

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