Creepy Steve Carell delivers in ‘Foxcatcher’



It’s been quite a few years since I’ve seen a movie without laughter of any sort–not a single one-liner, or even the slightest attempt towards invoking a harmless giggle. “Halloween” and the other horror films pride themselves on the fine art of laughter to relax unsuspecting viewers–all before an axe, knife or chainsaw cut to the morbid plot.  Even 1972’s epic backwoods suspense thriller “Deliverance” tossed out some jokes between arrow shots from Burt Reynolds’ recurve bow.  I’d probably have to go back to Steven Spielberg’s 1971 road rage, made-for-TV movie titled “Duel” to discover such a humorless film production as “Foxcatcher”.

“Foxcatcher” is the disturbing true story of 1984 U.S. Olympic gold-medal wrestlers and brothers, David and Mark Schultz. This film covers the siblings as they prepare for the 1987 World Championships in the hopes of finding continued success at the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics. Channing Tatum portrays Mark Schultz, who attempts to step out from his older brother’s shadow in preparation for the all-important make-or-break upcoming world competition and Olympic trials. Oscar-nominated Mark Ruffalo plays the eldest Schultz brother, David, a man with his sights set more upon his growing family and training younger Team USA wrestlers than pinning opponents on the mat.

Steve Carell, the 2006 Golden Globe winner for his 7-year role as Michael Scott in ‘The Office” television series, headlines “Foxcatcher” as millionaire and philanthropist John E. du Pont. Carell’s creepy, intense portrayal of the “Team Foxcatcher” mentor and financier recently earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role. His sick and twisted demeanor as the juggernaut behind Mark Schultz’s Olympic training at the du Pont family’s estate property, creates a fascinating look into the fine line between a supporting role and misplaced infatuation. The trio of Carell, Ruffalo and Tatum appear almost unrecognizable from previous movies in both their speech and body. All give exceptional performances resulting in a maximized storyline–each squeezing every ounce of entertainment from an otherwise bland plot.


This slow-paced, methodical thriller does enough, however, to grab the audience’s attention. Oscar-nominated director Bennett Miller (“Moneyball”) creates several awkward, bizarre moments in “Foxcatcher”, keeping viewers from fleeing to the theater exits prematurely. In fact, throughout the film, moviegoers sense that what they’re seeing is a train wreck in slow motion building up to a climatic ending which will include only winners and losers. No one invested in the film’s worrisome warning signs would dare miss out on the spectacular finale.

“Foxcatcher” is nominated for five Academy Awards. Besides the categories of Best Actor (Carell), Best Supporting Actor (Ruffalo), and Best Director (Miller), the film also deservedly earned an Oscar-nom for Best Makeup & Hairstyling and Best Original Screenplay. While Ruffalo and Tatum both propel the story along in convincing and earnest fashion, its Steve Carell’s eccentric work as John “Eagle Eye” du Pont that really separates his performance apart from all others in the film, delivering “Foxcatcher” its nerve whacking, slow suspenseful buildup. As the face of the du Pont estate in Pennsylvania, Carell’s Oscar-worthy gem in this movie makes the audience take notice of his aura and unusual demeanor.  A different side to the actor from TV’s hit comedy “The Office” that doesn’t include laughs or giggles–only grimaces from us, the viewers. While “Foxcatcher” may not have any light-hearted or laughable moments, the disturbing and intense characters make this true story impossible to walk away from unscathed for those involved.

Grade: B

“Foxcatcher” is Rated R for some drug use and violence.  It’s running time is 2 hours and 10 minutes.

© 2015, Patrick. All rights reserved.

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