Film Review: Foxcatcher


Director Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher is a subtle but incredibly effective film. Great performances and strong direction make for a memorable film.

Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz is asked to train at a new wrestling facility built on the estate of wealthy heir John du Pont. Training for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, John requests that Mark bring his brother, revered champion Dave Schultz, and the rest of the team to his estate where he acts as sponsor to the team…

Foxcatcher is a slow burner with a lasting after effect. Based on real events, the film is meticulous in its character development and build up. The narrative unfolds at a glacial pace, allowing the characters and set up to breathe. Character development in Foxcatcher is never rushed, a factor which allows the feeling of unease to grow.

The crux of Foxcatcher takes a while to develop; those unfamiliar with the story may not know quite where the film is heading for a good portion of the duration. The effect of Foxcatcher, particularly the climax, is that it stays in the mind long after the film has ended. The themes of dependence and control become more potent as the film continues.

Bennett Miller’s direction is strong, in both the action sequences and the character-driven scenes. The atmosphere generated in the film is pervasive. The unnerving feeling grows as the film progresses, thanks to Miller’s careful crafting. Foxcatcher’s  great score also adds to this atmosphere.

Steve Carell delivers a memorable performance as John du Pont; portraying the unease and instability of the character in a most convincing manner. Channing Tatum is decent as Mark Schultz, but it is Mark Ruffalo who really impresses in his supporting role.

Foxcatcher‘s dependence on character and mood really pays off. The end product is a film which will stay with viewers after the credits have rolled.

Foxcatcher was screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2014.