Monday, January 19, 2015

Foxcatcher (USA, 2014)

Nine Things About the Movie Foxcatcher

[NOTE: I tried very hard not to give away spoilers in this review. If you want to see this movie, see it before you learn the actual story.]

1. Most people (including myself) thought the trailer to this film was kind of vague and hard to remember; you couldn't really tell what it was about. People would say, "'Foxcatcher'? That's that weird movie about wrestling, right? And Steve Carell sure looks strange." But now I understand why. It's almost impossible to summarize the movie.

2. The actual plot is easy to explain - two brothers, Dave and Mark Schultz, are Olympic gold medalists in wrestling. The younger one, Mark, is trying to get out of his brother's shadow and become his own person. Mark meets this really strange millionaire, John du Pont, who invites Mark to start a wrestling team on his ranch, and train for the next Olympics. Things don't go as planned.

3. The plot is not what the movie is actually about, though. This is a subtle movie where some key points are shown through long, non-verbal scenes, or through short, almost throw-away lines of dialogue. Some people think this movie is too long, quiet, and boring. This means they have not been paying attention, and missed all the important stuff.

4. The plot of the movie is basically a true story, but they changed quite a few things to make it fit, and to make the story more complex (there is a lot of controversy over some of the points in the film). The real Mark Schultz has a cameo, as a wrestling official weighing in the movie version of himself.

5. I have only one thing to say about Steve Carell. He deserves Best Actor of the Year. And Mark Ruffalo deserves his Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor.

6. Now let me say something about Channing Tatum. The fact that he was not nominated for an Oscar is one of the most mysterious and outrageous snubs I've ever seen. Tatum gives a performance that rivals Carell's. He inhabits his character physically and emotionally. Together, Tatum and Carell turn what could have been a weird little melodrama into a genuine piece of American tragedy.

7. There is a constant thread of awkwardness and pain through the movie. It's perfectly matched with the muted, sorrowful colors of the film, the minimalist soundtrack, and the cinematography.

8. The movie also sets up a constant, vague sense of unease. You get a feeling in the pit of your stomach that something is going to go very wrong, but you don't know what or when.

9. This movie is a quiet, peaceful, psychological car crash, where morals clash with money, "yes" clashes with "no", family will both support and destroy you, and crushed dreams are painted onto other people. It's open to more than one interpretation, and I don't guarantee that you will like this movie. But I do guarantee that if you can stick with it, it will stick with you.