Fanatical Mr. Fox – ★★★½
We saw in The Way Way Back that Steve Carell could do asshole pretty well compared to the comedy characters that made his name; even earlier with Dan in Real Life we were awakened to his serious side. So in Foxcatcher we have an amalgamation of the two. Carell plays John Du Pont, a millionaire heir who is passionate about Olympic wrestling but was never allowed play as a child. He decides to live vicariously through the lives of wrestling brothers Mark (Channing Tatum) and David (Mark Ruffalo) Schultz.
Mark is tired of living in the shadow of his brother in a dead-end apartment so jumps at the chance to train at a world class facility on a ranch with the aim of winning the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Everything starts out swimmingly making Mark wonder what he has done to achieve such attention. This is when it becomes clear how bitter Du Pont is at his mother. He is determined to show her wrestling isn’t a low sport as she dismisses it with ease.
The bond between the two intensifies with massive undertones of a love that dare not speak its name. We are reminded of director Bennett Miller’s previous outing Capote. The real life Mark Schultz has blasted the film on many social websites, claiming this inferred relationship is nonsense. There is other muddying of the facts but to highlight them would take away from the drama.
Ruffalo and Tatum are fantastic as a somewhat more serious Bushwhacker brothers. They dance around the screen like apes, constantly on edge sensing danger ambling from one foot to another. One scene in which they have a pre-bout warm up is hypnotic. All concerned have been prosthetically transformed into blocky versions of themselves with a whiff of Frankenstein’s Monster.
Slow-paced and ponderous, the film takes its time getting to grips with the various machinations at work. At the core it’s a study of those who try to step out of the shadows cast by others but wonders if the shadows are the safest place for them.