4 out of 5 stars
"The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing. "- Marcus Aurelius
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. - Matthew 6:24
Many do not know how Olympic athletes get funding for their training, but all people desire to see their countrymen on the champions podium. Foxcatcher is based on actual events that occurred in the mid '80s wrestling community. It is a masterful, mat-based tragedy of an eccentric multi-millionaire, two champion wrestlers and the desire to achieve their goals. Olympic gold medalist Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) is given the chance to lead the training of future Olympic wrestlers at a state-of-the art facility by John du Pont (Steve Carell). Striving to get out from under the legendary effect of his revered brother, Dave (Mark Ruffalo), he eventually pulls his brother into the twisted world of du Pont.
Bennett Miller (Moneyball, Capote) has an uncanny ability to take real life stories that contain elements that are unfamiliar to the general populace and make them accessible and engaging. Foxcatcher has Olympic wrestling as its backdrop, but becomes a tragic tale of money, power and identity. The Shultz brothers were some of the most celebrated wrestlers in US history, but it was the twisted end to their story that gained the most attention. The three leads were almost unrecognisable, but managed to personify their characters brilliantly. Tatum and Ruffalo did a masterful work in showing the mentality and physicality of world class wrestling. The muscle-bound walk, the beautiful brutality, and the close camaraderie of this athletic community helped the understanding of how such a series of events could occur. Miller manages to develop a basic understanding of this world and sets the trajectory for the tragic conclusion. Also, his direction allows Steve Carrell to turn from a comedian into an effective method actor as John du Pont. With the managed intensity of wrestling, the story and performances will hold your attention and leave you exhausted in the end. This is not the feel good movie of the season, but like the hypnotic state of John du Pont, this brilliantly crafted story has a mesmerising effect and is worth the time.
There are many different life lessons that can be taken from the Foxcatcher story, but none stands out more then the impossibility of serving two masters. Looking at the duality between the Shultz brothers, the relationship between Mark Shultz and John duPont, and ultimately between wrestling and money. Miller manages to communicate the impossibility of serving two masters. The film begs the question,"What are you willing to do to achieve your dreams?" In achieving these goals and dreams, do the very things that allow you to achieve them begin to dictate how you live? Foxcatcher is a film about wrestling, but leaves you considering even deeper things in life.
Leaving the cinema...
The story has all that is needed to captivate the audience, but the performances by the three leads take it to a new level of enjoyment. Miller proves that simple, but well told stories continue to have a place in cinema. This film is worth a look.
Reel Dialogue: What are the bigger questions to consider from this film?
1. What can we know about brothers from the Bible? (Proverbs 17:17, Matthew 12:48-50)
2. Can we love God and money? (Matthew 6:24, 1 Timothy 6:10)
3. What does the Bible say about wealth? (Matthew 6:19-21, Hebrews 13:5)