Movie Review: “Foxcatcher” – Spellbinding but Slow

Written by Samah Ali December 13, 2014


Behind every award, medal and achievement, there is a story of struggle and triumph. In some cases, the journey to success is outweighed by the stakes and failures along the way. Decorated Olympians and World Champions Mark and Dave Schultz went through their fair share of trials while competing as professional wrestlers in the 1980s with their new coach, John Du Pont. Told in a absorbing but painfully slow way, “Foxcatcher” documents the turbulent relationship between Du Pont and the Schultz brothers.

After returning from 1984 Olympic games, Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and John Du Pont (Steve Carell) form an unlikely father-son bond, sharing ideas about patriotism, sport, and success. Du Pont, the aging and childless heir of the prominent DuPont family and fortune, sees this as his opportunity to make a contribution to wrestling and lead a powerful, promising team to the next Olympics and World Championships. Crazed, amateurish, and socially inept, Du Pont undermines and manipulates Schultz to become a figurehead in wrestling, and to prove to his mother he is more then an unsuccessful son.

 “I’m giving them a dream and I’m giving America hope.”

“Foxcatcher,” along with Angelina Jolie’s upcoming “Unbroken” and Damien Chazelle’s “Whiplash,” focuses on the plight of the student, and the rigors of being an athlete. Unfortunately it can’t keep up to the other two movies. The performances are captivating but the phenomenal story on display is undermined by poor pacing. Each scene drips with passion and anger as the story unravels but the shots are held for an excessive amount of time. The only significant moment worth holding was the dramatic change of emotions between Du Pont and Schultz, emphasizing the immense betrayal of their relationship.


Despite timing issues, three men picked up the speed with riveting performances. Carell definitely has more talent than the makeup artist who designed his fake nosepiece. His performance overcompensates for the bad makeup job as he embodies the innocent yet conniving coach who has leached off his family’s wealth.It’s a career changing performance that should bring many acting nominations his way.

“As a coach, I want you to be champions in sport and in life.”

Tatum, holding a pensive and Marlon Brando-like pout the whole movie, finally steps outside of his comfort zone with mostly non-verbal performance. Actions speak louder than words and for a man of so little, he spoke worlds. Ruffalo, unfortunate hairline and all, is the only responsive adult among the three. With a socially awkward coach and an introverted brother, Ruffalo breaks the silent animosity between the two men and provides the knowledge and courage to handle the situation.


Although “Foxcatcher” captures the gripping tale between the Schultz Brothers and John Du Pont, the unfortunate and too slow pacing contradicts the enticing and passionate tale it is trying to tell. The world of sports is all about drive and ambition, and while “Foxcatcher” certainly has ambition, it lacks the drive to make it a real winner. The three intense actors at the center make up for “Foxcatchers” flaws, but it will always come second best next to “Whiplash.”

Rating: 8/10


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About Samah Ali

Samah Ali

With a deep admiration for film, television, and music, Samah spends most of her free time expressing and sharing her love for the arts. Studying Creative Writing at Western University, she enjoys writing about film & music and shapes her passions with the latest movie or album available.

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