Directed By: Bennett Miller

Starring: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, and Vanessa Redgrave

I don't know the story of John du Pont.  I was just a kid when the multimillionaire wrestling enthusiast committed the heinous acts that made his name infamous.  Not an Olympics enthusiast, I'm not terribly familiar with Mark or Dave Schultz either.  Alas, the only gold medalist in the wrestling space with whom I'm familiar is Mr. Kurt Angle.  I know.  I should know more, but it makes me the best kind of film critic walking into a movie like this weekend's Foxcatcher, a blank slate.  Coming to Bennett Miller's psychological thriller with little perspective beyond the fact that it's a supposed awards contender gives me a certain objectivity.

Wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) lives in the shadow of his Olympic gold medalist winning brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo).  Training with his brother and spending all his time with his sister-in-law and kids, it's inevitable.  Multimillionaire John Eleuthère du Pont (Steve Carell) has a dream to bring America hope again.  He wants to rid his family's Rosemont trophy case of all the horses his mother Jean Liseter Austin du Pont (Vanessa Redgrave) has placed on it and put some wrestling gold up.  He wants to win a world championship.  Recognizing Mark's incredible potential, he sees the means by which he can realize this dream.  However, he needs both of the Schultz brothers to do so.  He invites both Mark and Dave to train with him at his Foxcatcher estate.  Looking to avoid uprooting his family, Dave says no.  Looking to take his career to the next level and unaware of the psychological angst that awaits him, Mark says yes.

Foxcatcher is one intense thriller that's got plenty of film critics fawning all over it.  There's just one tiny problem.  I'm not one of them.  I completely respect what Bennett Miller and his immensely talented cast deliver here as they revisit the peculiar, tragic tale of ornithologist, philatelist, and philanthropist John du Pont.  Foxcatcher is one taut thriller that explores how one truly sick individual gets into another man's head.  However, I'm not terribly entertained by it.  Miller makes the creative choice to build intensity with long silent pauses and subtle body language.  While there are certainly some crazy moments in the film—particularly the ending—sparse dialogue is a defining attribute of the film.  Limited talking is often not the mark of an engaging, entertaining flick, and that's definitely the case here in Foxcatcher.

Despite my gripes, I must say that the acting is nothing short of superb.  I know I've said some fairly negative things about  Channing Tatum over the years.  However, he really rises to the occasion as Olympic gold medalist Mark Schultz.  As this easily influenced introvert, he goes through psychological hell at the Foxcatcher estate.  It's intriguing to watch Tatum showcase his character's mental anguish.  For his part as the eccentric John du Pont, Steve Carell gives an outstanding performance in which he gives us one cold, crazy dude.  His intimidating body language and aloof persona are probably the most intriguing aspects of this incredible, nuanced performance.  His work here will definitely be resurfacing as the awards season progresses.  Finally, Mark Ruffalo gives us the film's only sane character in his portrayal of Olympic gold medalist Dave Schultz.  It's an earnest performance that just clicks.

Oddly enough, Foxcatcher puts me in the mindset of Japanese thriller Like Someone in Love.  It's a slow, slow film with an explosive ending that smacks you right in the face.  Still, the sparse dialogue is a problem for me.  Though I'm sure you will all be hearing plenty about this flick on the road to the Oscars, I'm also sure you won't be hearing it from me after this review.  Fierce performances just can't make this the next great American movie for me as others are dubbing it.  Foxcatcher gets a strong 0.06% rating.  Have a couple of glasses of Pinot Grigiot with this one.