Based on a true story, Foxcatcher follows the story of the US Olympic wrestlers Mark and Dave Schultz and their relationship with the odd, eccentric millionaire John du Pont. While the true nature of these events are relatively well known at the moment due to the film's release, I won't detail too much of the story in this review, as I feel the less you know about it the more impact it will have.
The film at first focuses on Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum), who, though winning Olympic gold, lives a lowly life with little recognition of his achievements. He receives a mysterious phone call from du Pont, who brings Schultz to his estate and proposes the creation of a wrestling team. The proposition of earning big and sporting fame eventually wins over Schultz, who accepts. As the team progress towards the World Championships, the strange, worryingly detached "friendship" between Mark and du Pont seems to grow but also regress.
A particular strongpoint of Foxcatcher is the performances. Steve Carell is absolutely brilliant as du Pont, perfectly conveying the disturbing and dysfunctional side of his character. Anyone questioning Carell being cast in this role clearly hasn't seen the film, as I'm convinced this is a career changing performance for him. He also sports a large prosthetic nose throughout the film, which is intended to cause some distraction to the viewer and the characters, as the real du Pont's unfortunately distorted appearance was off putting and often shaped how others treated him. The prosthetics definitely have the same effect here. In short, Carell should be a definite contender for best actor at the Oscars. However, the other main performances shouldn't be overlooked. Tatum gives a career best performance as Mark, perfectly depicting the rash but well meaning brother while Mark Ruffalo is stunning as Dave Schultz who at the time was better known and more respected. Their relationship is just incredible to watch. Tatum and Ruffalo act as if they have spent their whole life together, Dave being the caring figure to Mark's blunt emotions. They have some powerfully poignant moments together which I will never forget.
The director Bennett Miller (Moneyball, Capote) tells this intriguing story masterfully, with the long scenes and tense, patient conversations perfectly adding to the foreboding atmosphere. The absence of music throughout the movie, apart from a few short orchestral pieces and a blast of Bowie, also helps to build the tension between Mark and du Pont. There is also very little actual wrestling shown in the film, instead focusing on the closed off universe of the sport and the problematic relationships that lie within. While the film is over two hours long, it doesn't drag at all, with no pacing problems. The only real undersight was the underuse of Vanessa Redgrave (du Pont's mother) and Sienna Miller (David's wife), who only featured in a handful of scenes and maybe could have played a larger role.
Miller's aim was to portray a "narrative of a cult... A geographical separation from the outer world, literally, by a gate in which their own order is permitted to be honored." He has pulled it off splendidly, with some of the finest performances you will see this decade and beyond. The emotional impact of this piece is huge, with gut wrenching, tearful and deeply unsettling moments aplenty. This is a modern masterpiece, a future classic and deserves every award it will receive. 10/10. Sublime.