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Movie Review: Foxcatcher (Spoiler Version)

Directed by: Bennett Miller
Starring: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Rufalo

Mark Schultz was an Olympic wrestling champion in the 1984 Olympics. John Du Pont was a multi-millionaire philanthropist who becomes Mark's coach with the goal of winning the gold in the 1988 Olympics. Du Pont hires Mark to help him choose and train a team of wrestlers to take first to the 1987 World Championships and then to the 1988 Olympics. Because his family farm was known as Foxcatcher Farm, their team would be known as "Team Foxcatcher".

At first, Mark is appreciative of the opportunities that DuPont offers him though he is disappointed that his brother, Dave, also a gold medal wrestling champ, at first declines DuPont's offer to go to Foxcatcher Farm with his brother. What first begins as a coach-wrestler relationship soon develops into something deeper which is Mark's downfall when Du Pont introduces him to cocaine.

When Mark begins to change and becomes withdrawn, Du Pont offers Dave a huge sum of money to come to Foxcatcher and help him with the wrestling team. When Mark almost loses a championship, it's Dave who helps his brother pull himself together. This seems to be the beginning of Du Pont's undoing as he soon becomes mentally unbalanced.

After the 1988 Olympics, Mark Schultz decides to leave Foxcatcher while Dave remains to help Du Pont with his wrestling team, but not before securing that Mark will receive a stipend regardless of what he does in the future. Du Pont is forced to accept because he needs Dave's help with the wrestling team. However, Du Pont would continue to grow resentful of the Schultz brothers. This culminates in the unexpected events of January 26, 1996 when Du Pont and his head of security, Patrick Goodale, drive up to Schultz's driveway on the Du Pont's estate. After asking Dave if he has something against him, Du Pont unexpectedly pulls out a gun and shoots Dave Schultz four times resulting in his death.

The film ends with a short police chase where Du Pont is captured and is sentenced to 13 to 30 years in prison. Meanwhile, Mark Schultz has found success in the UFC.

Based on true events, I'm sure that the movie embellished the details in order to suit the dramatic arc of the story. Although it is more an implication than explicitly indicated, one motive for Mark's decline in emotional and mental state seems to be an implication that Du Pont and Schultz were involved in a sexual relationship that leaves Mark feeling guilty and ashamed. Also, another implication of the deterioration of the relationship between Mark Schultz and John Du Pont was the fact that Mark had originally looked up to Du Pont as a father figure since his own father had been absent in his childhood. When Du Pont, the father figure introduces Schultz to a life of drugs, it would make sense that Schultz would react in the way he did.

The performances by Carell, Tatum and Rufalo were solid and believable. Plus, this was one of those films where the lead actor, in this case Steve Carell, goes through a complete makeover to look more like their character than themselves, which should garner at least an Oscar nomination for Carell.

Foxcatcher is one of those films that leave you thinking and wanting to discuss it with friends once it is over, which in my opinion is a good thing. Although it seemed to drag in places and had an uneven pacing, I enjoyed Foxcatcher and am glad I saw it.

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