Mini Movie Review: Foxcatcher (2014)

Foxcatcher 2014 Photo

Foxcatcher (2014)
Director: Bennett Miller
Cast: Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller

If there’s a missing link between director Bennett Miller’s Capote (2005) and his very different follow-up Moneyball (2011), Foxcatcher could more or less function as a cinematic bridge for those films. Like Moneyball, Foxcatcher is a compelling sports-based biographical pic but it’s more akin to Capote in that it’s a psychological drama based on a true story about a peculiar and ultimately disturbing relationship.

Three years after U.S. Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) won a gold medal at the 1984 games, he and eventually his older brother Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) are recruited by multi-millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell) to operate a training complex at Foxcatcher estate.  As the story progresses, the initial question of why would the heir to the Du Pont family fortune would want to be involved with amateur wrestling evolves into a darker examination of the human psyche.

Foxcatcher’s intelligent screenplay delivers its layered narrative with a deft touch. Some viewers could rightly see this as a tale of pathological ambition or about the corruption of wealth and power. However, the aspect of the story that resonates the most lies in the mentally unbalanced minds of its characters.

In a purely dramatic role, Steve Carell’s strong performance peels back the different facades of du Pont: a respected philanthropist, a self-deluded egoist, and a disconcerting old man.  Du pont’s depiction is sufficiently developed yet he remains an enigma.  

The other half of the unlikely pair is Channing Tatum in a suitably restrained performance. He’s convincing at portraying the physically imposing and mentally fragile side of the Olympic wrestler.  Both du Pont and Mark Schultz share a lonely, broken soul but their motivation in the pursuit of athletic excellence and glory is very different. 

As much as Mark Schultz wants to get out from under the shadow of his older brother, the screenplay shows us that it’s the bond between them that’s been the foundation of his success. The heart of the movie belongs to Mark Ruffalos’ sympathetic portrayal and it’s that very quality which makes the final act work.


Foxcatcher’s success owes a lot to its direction. Miller seamlessly inter-splices grainy footage of a fox hunt and a civil war battle which took place on the same grounds as Foxcatcher ranch; serving as a brilliant touch of foreshadowing and representation of the primary characters’ internal conflict.

Miller also keeps a good handle on Foxcatcher’s tone which is wrought with an uneasy, icy-cold tension that can deliberately shift into almost absurd moments – the kind of awkwardness that needs to be dispelled with an uncomfortable, quiet chuckle. 

Foxcatcher is a thicket of fog to Moneyball’s brighter, inspirational disposition. Though several real-life wrestling matches are recreated, it’s less a sports movie and more of a character driven drama. Foxcatcher may not be visually flashy but it is a well-made film that garnered Miller with the best director award at the Cannes Film Festival.  

Other Reviews You Might Like:

Whiplash (2014) Movie Review

Mini Movie Review: Shame (2011)

About Sidekick Reviews

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Posted on November 13, 2014, in Movies, Review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Have you ever considered doing more movie reviews?

  2. Wow, fantastic post Eddie. I can really not say enough how excited I am for this, but also how disappointed I was to learn we will not be receiving this film for another week. Bah!!! Enough is enough, get me into the theater! 🙂

    • Thanks a bunch! 🙂 I’d be very curious to hear what you think of this movie after you watch it. I wasn’t familiar with this story heading into the movie and that was for the better not knowing what was going to happen. Hope ya enjoy it too!

  3. Good review! This looks really great, can’t wait until it comes out in the UK!

  4. Solid review! Very excited to see this.
    How is Sienna Miller?

  5. Cool review dude, I’ve only started hearing about this film recently, but after I saw the trailer earlier this week and finding out that it was Steve Carell under that make-up, I was like “Damn, I have to see this film just for that performance.” The film looks awesome and like Lauren said I can’t wait for this film’s release here in the UK.

    • Yeah, with the prosthetic nose and make up, Steve Carell is hard to recognize at first. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets some Oscar buzz for this role. I also couldn’t help but to think that the actors playing “Gambit” and “Bruce Banner” are brothers as I was watching this movie haha. Hmm, looks like there is a few month gap before it gets released in the UK but I hope you really enjoy it when it’s out. Thanks and appreciate the comments as always! 🙂

  6. Great review!
    Like I said before you should do more movie review.
    I never heard of this movie before.Seems like Tatum can actually act

  7. Great review. Can’t say I’ve heard of this before (I’m out of the loop when it comes to movies). Sports can be such a vehicle for drama even if their isn’t many actual matches like you mentioned is the case here.

  8. I think Foxcatcher has a limited release so far in the U.S. I heard it did well at the box office in only a handful of theatres so far. Maybe there will be more marketing when it gets a wider release? That’s a good point about sports being a vehicle for drama, there’s different types of stories that can be told beyond the game or matches.

  9. Great review! You should totally write about more movies! I cannot wait for this one mainly for the performance and Ruffalo, love what you wrote about him here.

  10. I liked the movie, although I feel like it didn’t really explore du Pont as a character enough; it seemed more intent on exploring him as a symbol. However, Dave Schultz was easily the best part of the movie, and Mark Ruffalo was stellar.

    • I liked the movie too and I think I see where you coming from with the du Pont character. Yeah, Ruffalo is great and Dave Schultz is the heart of the movie imo. Appreciate the comments! 🙂

  11. John Sorensen

    Great film, loved it!
    *SPOILER ALERT* He never catches that darn Fox.

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