Bennett Miller’s new film Foxcatcher screened last night at the Cannes Film Festival yesterday, and now the first reviews have gone online. The film tells the true story of Olympic Wrestling Champion brothers Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo), and their relationship with eccentric millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell). The reactions to the film have been immensely positive with critics citing the film’s incisive look at power and privledge in America. Those who saw the film also agree that all three performances are terrific. Naturally, this kind of buzz has ignited Oscar talk, but it’s May. Let’s wait until the fall season before we start tumbling down that rabbit hole.
Hit the jump to check out snippets from the Foxcatcher reviews along with the first poster. The film opens on November 14th and also stars Sienna Miller, Vanessa Redgrave, and Anthony Michael Hall.
What we’re left with, then, is an acrid, anguished commentary on the temptations of wealth, the abuse of power and the downside of the human drive for success, as well as a picture that, in setting a cold-blooded account of a true crime in the world of competitive sports, retains a faint narrative kinship with both “Capote” and “Moneyball.” But any lessons we’re meant to glean from “Foxcatcher” ultimately pale next to the strange, specific and singularly haunting experience of the movie itself as it moves, with inexorable momentum, toward its stark, brutal climax.
From the beginning, you can’t take your eyes off of Carell; as if by some secret alchemy, the actor makes you believe that his character is an entirely uncharismatic man while delivering a completely charismatic performance. The combination of his thin, reedy voice with frequent heavy silences and odd vocal pacing is thoroughly unnerving. He is so socially maladroit that no one would tolerate him but for his wealth and status, although his speech habits command attention by virtue of their simple weirdness.
Tatum and Ruffalo are no less superb. After “Magic Mike” and “21 Jump Street,” Tatum’s versatile instinct for locating the insecure heart of the all-American lunk should no longer surprise us, but he’s entirely wrenching here as a man with no sense of self beyond the ideal he’s been instructed to emulate; his violent yet externally muffled response when his winning streak is challenged climaxing in a stunning scene of self-injury. Ruffalo must maintain a more even emotional keel throughout, subtler flushes of fury gradually entering his performance. In which he’s required to film a public video endorsement for du Pont — using “words he likes, like excellence, intensity and domination” — and finds himself at a physical loss to do so may be the film’s finest.
Foxcatcher threatens to fall apart at any moment—it’s a film that could rely on a simple explanation or a big moment to create a centerpiece that defines the film, but instead Miller lets the drama slide out so effusively without ever once forcing a card.
It is a gripping film: horrible, scary and desperately sad.
We’ve been anticipating ‘Foxcatcher’ since forever, it feels like, and our expectations were sky high, and yet in almost every way this towering film exceeds them. The sweeping intelligence of Miller’s enormous movie feels like it will be feeding our minds for days to come and as the best of his films, it is also simply one of the best dramas dissecting contemporary America (despite its period) that we’ve ever seen.