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Thursday, 29 January 2015

Foxcatcher

Steve Carell in a role that is not comic and over the top would be perceived by most people as laughable for sure.  But believe me when I say this – Steve Carell as John Eleuthère du Pont will be spoken about for time immemorial.  It is a stroke of casting brilliance and Carell grabs the opportunity with everything that he possibly can.


Bennett Miller’s third full length feature film is about the troubled life of three people – du Pont (Carell) and 2 Olympic Gold Medal winning brothers (1984 Los Angeles) – David Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) and Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum).  It is dark, slow and extremely disturbing and the only reason it has been released in India would be to ride on the Oscar wave.

To begin with, Miller establishes the mental state of Mark who finds himself at a local school in place of his elder brother David.  Mark is clearly uncomfortable about speaking to a bunch of kids. He is even more uncomfortable about living under his brother’s shadow.  Miller brings out that aspect really well with little use of dialogue but a lot of emphasis on expressions and build up.

Along this time is when Mark gets a call from du Pont’s office and is flown first class and then by chopper to the du Pont estate.  John du Pont makes Mark an offer of sponsoring him and eventually the entire United States team for the World Wrestling championship in the coming year.  He in fact allows Mark & David to handpick their team as well.

The narrative slowly unravels itself like peeling an onion.  First the conflict that Mark has in his mind to make a name for himself. Followed by David’s reluctance to move his family to Foxcatcher farms. Of course it all boils down to the character called John du Pont aka Eagle aka coach.

Steve Carell has played what can arguable termed as the role of his life time.  He is intense in every frame.  He brings out du Pont’s desperate need for acknowledgement from his mother Jean (Vanessa Redgrave) in a manner that makes you feel sorry for the character and at the same time dislike him ever so slightly.

It is the first time that a Bennet Miller movie hasn’t been nominated for Best Movie (Moneyball (2011) and Capote (2005) before this).  However, he has, once again got nominations for Best Actor (Carell) and best supporting actor (Ruffalo) both of whom are brilliant.  Even the otherwise bland Channing Tatum is superb.

Foxcatcher is probably not a movie that the Indian audiences will enjoy.  9 out of 10 will walk out wondering what the hullabaloo is all about because they may not get it.  The remaining will probably be as disturbed as I was because of the nature of the narration and the ending which is expected but will still send a chill up your spine.  8 on 10.  Watch if you have the stomach for slow and heavily layered cinema.

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