Sometimes, it’s hard to imagine a comedic figure as a deeply disturbed individual. Yet they manage to surprise us every time. At the moment one of my favorite dark performances by a comedy icon is the late Robin Williams as Ty in “One Hour Photo.” Not only did he get rid of his comedic personality, he became something else entirely. Now that I’ve seen “Foxcatcher,” it’ll be difficult to see Steve Carell as just Michael Scott from “The Office.”
Set in 1986, Olympic Gold Medalist Mark Schultz [Channing Tatum] has no real direction for his life. He trains during the week with his brother Dave [Mark Ruffalo] but ultimately has nothing else going for him.
Enter John E. du Pont [Steve Carell], one of the wealthiest men in America. John recruits Mark to move onto his estate so that he can represent the Foxcatcher farm in upcoming wrestling events, including the next Olympics. At first everything seems to be going well, that is, until du Pont gradually starts to show who he really is.
Once I left “Foxcatcher,” there was only one thing that I was thinking about and it was that I needed to see a cheery movie. I say this because once it was all said and done, I felt disgusting and unclean. Director Bennett Miller set out to make a bleak and uncomfortable film and boy did he succeed.
“Foxcatcher” is sickening in every sense of the word and, for that, job well done. In this true story, Steve Carell manages to play one of the creepiest characters of the past few years. What distinguishes du Pont from other sociopaths is that he’s a very subtle man. Just looking at him made me feel physically uncomfortable.
You never get a sense of what is going on inside his head and, for me, not knowing the disruptive motivation of a sociopath is absolutely terrifying. Without giving it away, there is a scene near the end of the film that is important to the true story and I thought that Carell pulled it off magnificently. Honestly, he did a great job throughout as a man with problems that aren’t noticeable on the surface but you can easily tell that something is wrong with him.
Channing Tatum, who plays our main protagonist, does a fantastic job as well. Like Carell, he’s playing a character that he’s not used to playing. You can tell by his mannerisms that he’s a completely different person and not the Channing Tatum that audiences are familiar with. He slouches when he walks and has an easily impressionable mindset which makes room for an unpredictable character.
The scenes that work the best with Tatum are when he’s playing off of either Carell or Ruffalo, which was another aspect that worked tremendously well. The relationship between the Schultz brothers is fantastic because they have this subtle bond and they don’t have to say that much to get their point across to one another.
If you know the story beforehand, it makes the tension leading up to the event all the more unbearable. My recommendation is to not look anything up beforehand as it’s best to go in blind, not knowing what’s going to happen.
The tone and look of the film is dreary and, for what the filmmakers set out to accomplish, job well done. “Foxcatcher” isn’t a film that I plan to re-visit anytime soon, but I will see it again sometime in the future as I feel that it has more to offer underneath the surface.
Although, for first-time viewers, I would wait for a drab and rainy day and only then will you feel immersed within the environment.
Matt Bilodeau can be contacted at email@example.com