About 20 years ago the heir to the DuPont fortune, John Dupont shot and killed Olympian wrestling coach, Dave Schultz. Director Bennett Miller tells the story of this real life drama in a tense, brooding mournful tone that is mesmerizing and pushes the boundaries of the eccentric.
Miller is best known for the films Capote and Moneyball, both biographical in nature, and approaches the story of John DuPont (brilliantly played by Steve Carell) with a skilled hand exploring his eccentricities, bordering on weirdness, of his desire to use his wealth and social standing to finance the U.S. Olympic Wrestling team led by Mark Schultz (an excessively brooding Channing Tatum).
Brothers Mark and Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) both won gold medals in the 1984 Olympics. The story picks up after the Olympics giving us a brief look at the dichotomy of lifestyles between the two brothers. Dave, outgoing, respected, married and happily coaching wrestling and training his brother, and Mark, an introverted, lonely, poor, brutish, morose wrestler seemingly content but we suspect is unhappy under the surface. Dupont’s goal is to finance a Olympic wrestling team under the name of Foxcatcher, his family’s Foxcatcher Farms, to show his patriotism and bring both brothers aboard to build a winning team. Dupont seduces Mark with his wealth but Dave is not interested because he has a family and likes where he is in life. Mark goes alone to live on the Dupont estate adhering to various rules and a long list of dos and don’ts.
Miller paints Mark as a lost boy, jealous of his brother, trying to break from his brother’s shadow (but we never know why). DuPont plays on this and a peculiar, somewhat deviant relationship develops. Though handled skillfully, it lacks the substance to make it believable. You’re wondering from the beginning how can Mark fall for this seduction and be happy. It’s too peculiar. Dave arrives on the scene after DuPont apparently seduces him with an offer he can’t refuse and thus begins the derailment of Mark and with it the hopes of DuPont having a gold medal winning team.
As engrossing as this film is, it misses in not exploring in more detail the crumbling relationship between the brother, between mark and DuPont, and between DuPont and Dave which led to his murder. I recommend that you watch this film for the performances alone. Afterwards, you’ll find yourself thirsting to learn more and may even Google what actually happened 20 years ago.
Starring: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo
Director: Bennett Miller
Company: Sony Pictures Classics
Now Showing: In Theatres
MPAA Rating: R (violence and drug use)