Movie Review #919
|Released in Los Angeles, California and New York City, New York on November 14, 2014. Biography/Drama/Sport. Rated R for some drug use and a scene of violence. Runs 134 mins. Director: Bennett Miller. Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman. Cast: Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller, Vanessa Redgrave, Anthony Michael Hall, Guy Boyd, and Brett Rice.
A TOUR DE FORCE FOR BOTH CAST AND DIRECTOR.
By Alexander Diminiano
If you live in Pennsylvania and you are unfamiliar with the name “du Pont,” then shame on you. It’s as great a sin as living in Florence and having not the faintest idea what a Medici is. Yes, there was William Penn, but if you want something beyond what a history textbook might throw at you on a rudimentary level, then I’ll tell you right now that William Penn did not build PA. Maybe he did to some extent, but it was really the du Pont family who made the state just what it is, at least from my understading. This family is one of America’s answers to Florence’s much older Medici family. They were–and still are–an extremely wealthy and generous family, responsible for the creation of schools, hospitals, institutions, offices, apartments, and houses–and more.
I should rephrase. The du Pont family is an extremely wealthy and generous family, for the most part. “Foxcatcher” picks up with the honest recognition that no family, and nobody, is truly perfect. Certainly not John E. du Pont. As soon as we see him appear in “Foxcatcher”, we can tell there’s something about him that just isn’t right. John du Pont is an ambitious man, but he’s not exactly the most likable. Not until the third act of the film does the character begin to really twitch in the wrong direction, but there’s something extremely unsavory, if completely unobvious, about him throughout the entire movie.
John du Pont is a fascinating protagonist/antagonist. We’re given glimpses that suggest his insanity through an homage to Hitchcock’s Norman Bates. John requires his mother’s approval of his choices. He’s given up the career she had dreamt he would pursue (horseracing) and has instead chosen to pursue his own dream (Olympic wrestling). He puts himself to the standards that will make his mother happy with his choice, rather than finding enjoyment in his passion himself. But one of a few deciding tragedies in “Foxcatcher” is that John doesn’t understand that regardless of how hard he tries to appease his mother, she’ll always remain disappointed in her son.
Steve Carell is amazing in this role. His disappearance into John du Point is creepy, subtle, and unlike any other role he’s ever played. Honest to god, you won’t be able to tell it’s him. Between the prosthetic nose, teeth, and eyebrows (the role required that Carell arrive to the set three hours early each time filming took place, solely for makeup purposes), and the troubled voice and awkward mannerisms that Carell embellishes, he’s entirely unrecognizable as someone who, in any other movie, would be making us laugh.
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