Montag, 1. Dezember 2014
American director Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher" dramatizes the peculiar real-life events surrounding reclusive industrialist John du Pont and Olympic gold-medalists in wrestling, the Schultz brothers, to thoroughly riveting effect. What actually went through these people's minds as, against all likelihood, their paths crossed and spiraled toward tragedy, shall forever remain unknowable to us, no matter how suggestively the screenplay throws elements of homoeroticism and mommy issues into the mix. If the writing errs on the obvious and slightly manipulative side, however, the mastery of Miller's direction can't be denied. Committing once again to a coldly understated, nonjudgmentally observant narrative style that made "Capote" such a success, this movie is all about building tension through atmospherically blank shots and unsparing scrutiny of characters growing increasingly unhinged. Often very quiet in more sense than one, it creates a pressurized vacuum in which to ponder the twisted personalities at work. A scene where du Pont gathers his private wrestling team and, in all earnestness, begins to give laughably rudimentary instructions not even his frail old mother can bear to watch, is so demonstrably strange it invites you to re-question everything you thought you knew about each one of its participants.
The principal cast is very strong, especially Steve Carell and Channing Tatum. Playing the rich, bored tycoon, Carell inherits the demeanor, speech pattern and aura of another man. The extent of his character's sociopathic tendencies reveals itself in chilling details such as the utter calm before, during and after brutally slapping somebody in the face. It's also to his credit that a scene involving in-flight drug consumption comes off so funny and creepy in brilliantly equal measure. Tatum doesn't go through as drastic a physical transformation but looks changed nonetheless. As the impressionable and deeply insecure young wrestler, he shows you with pain etched in his face and ruthlessness injected in his self-destructive behavior just how broken this supposed champion is. Making little more than a cameo appearance, Vanessa Redgrave does that thing that only Vanessa Redgrave can do and turns every carelessly disappointed look or a line as banal as "It's a low sport" magnificent.
The film's superior on a technical level. Though mostly lean in composition, the picture has a beautifully aged, weighted feel to it. The editing is smart and highly precise, letting the sense of foreboding unfold via jarring mid-action or mid-sentence cuts. Pulling all these strings at once, Miller has crafted a taut, unsettling drama that's not entirely persuasive or conclusive in its deconstruction of troubled souls but magnetically gripping all the same.