Inspired by a news story that shook America in its time, pitting John E. du Pont, rich heir to a dynasty of chemical industrialists, and brothers Dave and Mark Schultz, both Olympic wrestling champions free, Bennett Miller found in his third fiction feature film, Foxcatcher (2015), the means of combining the material of his two previous films, Truman Capote (2005) and The Strategist (2011). The first recounted how the writer Truman Capote extracted a work of art from a bloody crime, the second dissected the tissues that link sport to money.
This results in a film of razor-sharp intelligence, carried by a remarkable cast and a script whose clarity does not hinder its subtlety (by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman). Filmed in winter tones, accompanied by dreary music by Rob Simonsen, Foxcatcher offers at its center the portrait of a sick man, John E. du Pont. To play him, Steve Carell underwent the exercise of makeup which makes him unrecognizable: aquiline nose, shaved eyebrows, modified teeth.
When he was a child, John E. du Pont’s mother (Vanessa Redgrave, terrific in the film) paid a servant’s son to play with him. This wealth allows him today to pass himself off as a leader of men. By dint of checks and gifts, he convinced the Schultz brothers, then the American freestyle wrestling federation, to admit that he, the heir to the DuPont firm, whose mediocrity we, the spectators, know, had received Providence’s mission to lead Team USA to Olympic victory.
In front of him, the billionaire finds a man as injured as himself, Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum), a bodybuilder wrestler who has held the titles of national champion and Olympic wrestling champion. Tossed in his childhood from foster home to foster home, he has no other anchor in life than the affection of his older brother, David (Mark Ruffalo), also a wrestler, also an Olympic champion. A responsible, honest, loving big brother who serves as his coach, in the gym and in life.
Each in their own way, they fall prey to the lust of a man who already has a lot but would still like to claim what remains of them – talent, solidarity, the feeling of belonging. Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo are impeccable, one crude but lucid, the other generous but fallible.
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