The Vermont Cynic

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“Foxcatcher” wrestles with the after effects of success

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A reclusive, eccentric billionaire and a world champion wrestler team up to train for the 1988 Olympics in the five-time Oscar-nominated movie, “Foxcatcher.”

Rather than focusing solely on the athlete’s pursuit of some title, “Foxcatcher” is a sports movie that contains underlying drama and conflict that extends far beyond the typical protagonist’s journey.

What we see instead are the lengths to which people are willing to go to achieve what they think will bring happiness and success. “Foxcatcher” presents an eerie warning of the true costs of unbridled obsession.

Channing Tatum plays Mark Schultz, a professional wrestler who, despite an impressive career, feels that he is living in the shadow of his older brother Dave, played by Mark Ruffalo.

Contacted by mysterious billionaire and wrestling enthusiast John du Pont, played by Steve Carrell, he decides to move to du Pont’s estate in Pennsylvania and train for the upcoming world championships with du Pont as his “coach.”

“Foxcatcher” moves at  a remarkably slow pace yet succeeds in maintaining heightened tension.

The lack of dialogue emphasizes physical direction and communication, which Tatum is particularly adept at.

Discourse is replaced with powerful silent scenes, and we begin to really appreciate the mental and emotional turmoil churning within Schultz.

A talented and successful wrestler already, his self-imposed guilt and fear of being unable to fulfill his dreams is made worse by the pressures put upon him by du Pont.

The motives of du Pont at first seem innocent enough. A patriot and wrestling enthusiast, he wishes to see U.S. wrestling become a powerhouse on the world stage.

As a powerful man with access to vast resources, he is happy to offer his services in the cause. However, as the plot progresses and his own flaws become visible, one begins to question du Pont’s true motives. It becomes clear very quickly that he is a manipulative narcissist with little concern for others.

Despite a rather expositional scene depicting the history of the du Pont fortune, “Foxcatcher” was a stylistic, thoughtful film devoid of clichés.

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“Foxcatcher” wrestles with the after effects of success