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A Left-Handed Catch

December 21, 2014

Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher was fascinating to watch, but, I felt, ultimately unsatisfying. It tells the story of Olympic wrestling gold medalists Dave and Mike Schulz and their tragic involvement with John du Pont.

Foxcatcher is dark and disturbing, discomforting. As the story unfolds we realize that nothing good will happen here. A deep sadness pervades everything. But is quiet dread and the inevitability of circumstance enough to build a movie on?

Drawn from actual events, scene-upon-scene is filled with preternatural dread. The hushed tone that hangs over the proceedings about sucks the air out the room. Steve Carell’s sorry John du Pont is a vampire incarnate, preying on the talents of the Schulz brothers.

I very much like Bennett Miller’s work (Capote, Moneyball) as well as the work of his actors Mark Ruffalo, Channing Tatum, and Steve Carell.

What I found most fascinating about the film was the overarching tonal quietly. Ultimately, the dialogue became superfluous.

Here, it is the actors who invest their characterizations with a complexly drawn physicality. They are the show. Two scenes in particular exemplify what kept me watching: the scene where Tatum and Ruffalo grapple, hold then counter-hold, all shot medium close; the status of each brother shifting; the nuanced shadings of their relationship revealed; until there is no longer a need for dialogue. It is perhaps the finest played scene I’ve seen all year.

The other scene comes late in the movie. Steve Carell visits the training area to give a pep talk. After, as the wrestling team returns to their training, he hesitantly takes a few steps, then shuffles along completing a number of awkward laps around the room, a tragic “Jerry Lewis”, so out of place in the wrestling milieu he heart-rendingly seeks recognition in.

An animated selection from Eadweard Muybridge’s studies in Animal Locomotion…


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One Comment
  1. aleeds4613 permalink

    Although I have’t seen the film, I thorough(ly) enjoyed your review (perspective). I want to see the scenes you describe,


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