Foxcatcher is a eery disturbing film with outstanding performances by its male leads – Steve Carell (40 year-old Virgin, Crazy Stupid Love) as John du Pont, Channing Tatum (Magic Mike, 22 Jump Street) as Mark Shultz and Mark Ruffalo (You Can Count on Me, Shutter Island) as Dave Shultz.
Foxcatcher is a movie that claims it is based on a true story. However, it uses artistic license too liberally and introduces over-the-top plot lines that are not only false but unnecessary. The real-life story of Foxcatcher is harrowing and disturbing on so many fronts and therefore provides endless material for one scary and disturbing screenplay without a need to introduce elements and entire plotlines that are a total fabrication.
Carell is particularly effective. Although much heavier than the real-life du Pont, Carrell has perfected du Pont’s mannerisms and speech patterns. Facial prosthetics assist in making Carell highly convincing. Tatum, Ruffalo, Siena Miller (Layer Cake, American Sniper) as Nancy Shultz and Vanessa Redgrave (Blowup, AA Julia) as Jean Du Pont have also transformed to look and act very similar to the real people. In this aspect Foxcatcher works well.
The Production Design by Jess Conchor (No Country for Old Men, True Grit, The Devil Wears Prada) and Costumes by Kasia Walicka Maimone (Copote, Moonrise Kingdom) are total winners. Musical Director Rob Simonsen (Little Miss Sunshine, Life of Pi) expertly weaves the music into the story. The brooding score during a tense sequence where Mark Shultz is on the brink of possible failure harkens back the very best created by John Barry (James Bond, Out of Africa, Somewhere in Time).
One of the difficulties for sports oriented films is portraying the actual competition and training. Foxcatcher does a decent job in this area, but the reality is that the lead actors are simply too heavy and lumbering than their real-life counter parts in any of the action sequences.
If you want to see a scary, unnerving, disturbing piece of filming that is based on fiction with basic elements of truth then Foxcatcher is a solid bet.