I have to be honest right from the start here. I am a big Steve Carell fan. Ever since Anchorman and Brick Tamland invited Veronica to the party in his pants, I was hooked. Then when I saw the American version of the Office it turned into a full on bromance, if a bit of a one sided one.
Therefore I was always going to have to work hard to look at this film objectively because I was kind of primed to like it. Luckily though I needn’t have worried because Carell is literally unrecognisable in this film. That is of course down to some incredible prosthetics just as much as it is to the actor but Carell really is superb as the eccentric, multi-millionaire philanthropist turned wannabe wrestling coach. As I assume most film goers do, having seen the film (which is based on true events and real people) I went home and googled the bejesus out of the real people that the actors were portraying. Whilst Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum (who play the American, Olympic gold medal winning wrestlers Dave and Mark Schultz) gave very honest and open performances as the brothers, Carell really managed to capture a stark likeness of John Dupont which makes the film all the more haunting.
Now due to how much I enjoyed this film I am going to avoid giving any spoilers here, I am going to do my best anyway, because this film really needs to be seen.
So to give an overview, the story focusses on the time when John Dupont, Multi-Millionaire heir to one of Americas largest fortunes, decides to try and take over the national American wrestling team in 1986. This all starts when he approaches a young Mark Schultz (Tatum) and seeks to become his mentor in the lead up to the wrestling world championships and subsequent Olympics. It’s hard not to draw comparisons with the film Liberace, in which the exuberant, eccentric Liberace befriends a young man as his so called ‘ward’ and tries to mould him into a version of himself. We do seem to love these stories as an audience. Someone preying on the naivety of a youngster and exploiting them for their own gains. These stories need to be handled carefully, not only because of their content but also because most of the time the real life people depicted in the films are still around and will be linked to the film whether they like it or not. Fortunately there is nothing to be squeamish about here. The actors are all delicate with their portrayal and the handling of the story is sincere. Mark Ruffalo is a shining example of this. His performance is brilliant. He is understated yet strong and gives a performance that shows why he is such hot property right now, not just for being the Hulk.
Also it’s good to see Channing Tatum and Sienna Miller tackle the roles that they do in this film (Miller plays Dave Schultz’ wife Nancy). It is not the run of the mill action or big budget fantasy epic like Jupiter Ascending that Tatum is also appearing in. Sienna Miller is not in the film very often but is a pivotal part when she does pop up. Both of them are going for the nitty gritty which is great to see, actors focussing on the acting. Lovely stuff.
In the lead up to Oscar season, as usual, there has been a raft of great films, Birdman, Whiplash, The Theory of everything and Selma to name a few. Foxcatcher is definitely up there with the best of them. Whilst I don’t see this being up there with the likes of Birdman or the Theory of Everything as best picture, it is a fantastic film that should be seen thanks to the incredible story and the even better performances. It drags a little in the middle of the film but other than that it keeps you gripped for the duration.
Verdict. 8.5 out of 10 – get it watched,