‘Foxcatcher’, with its range of themes beyond wrestling glory, has quickly become the most talked about and well liked film at the Cannes Film Festival and critics have hastened to agree.
Murder, wrestling and the French Riviera don’t seem to go hand in hand, yet Steve Carell’s Foxcatcher has definitely won over the crowds and critics at Cannes Film Festival.
Channing Tatum and Steve Carell star in Foxcatcher.
Foxcatcher revolves around a prominent sports sponsor John du Pont (Carell), who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and was convicted of murder in 1996 after he shot Olympic wrestling champion Dave Schultz (played by Mark Ruffalo). Named after the farm in which du Pont set up a wrestling gym and subsequently shot Dave, it is based on an autobiography by Mark Schultz, Dave’s brother. As such, the film also follows the glory and tragedy of Mark (Channing Tatum) who went on to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games and two at the World Championships in the 1980s.
Foxcatcher predominately revolves around the males, simply owing to the nature of the sport, but they are supported by some impressive female actors. Vanessa Redgrave (Atonement) portrays du Pont’s mother and Sienna Miller (Layer Cake) plays the wife of Dave, Nancy Schultz.
So why have the crowds at Cannes gone wild for Foxcatcher?
The film appears to have all the elements of an Oscar winning film. Carell have transformed himself from a likeable comic actor to an anxious and aged sponsor, obsessed with wrestling and the sport’s athletes. The film is unique in that it presents a dark take on the traditional sports movie. It is not simply about the sport and becoming the best in the field as with such films as Rocky, but draws on more complex themes such as mental illness and death. There’s a sense of voyeurism there also as these events truly happened, albeit possibly exaggerated, and don’t we all love a true crime film?
Steve Carell is almost unrecognisable in Foxcatcher.
Early reviews of the film suggest it is likely to become a favourite amongst the critics. Foxcatcher has already been highly praised with critics focussing on the film’s depth of meaning. Peter Bradshaw, of the Guardian, wrote “Above everything else, it [Foxcatcher] is a piercing insight into toxic mentor-ism, into competitive men and their terrible emotional need to find a father-figure to hate and to disappoint.” Whilst others believe the film to be a “parable of modern America”.
Steve Carell’s performance been hailed as the best of his career, with critics unanimously praising the usually upbeat actor’s dowdy appearance and portrayal. Todd McCarthy (THR) has described it as “career changing” whilst Justin Chang (Variety) wrote – alongside Ruffalo and Tatum – Carell’s performance is “superb”.
However, others have argued du Pont’s mental illness appears simplistic. Slant Magazine’s critic has claimed that, owing to director Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher offers us next to nothing of utility or complexity about du Pont's pathology.”
Foxcatcher is due to be released in the US on 14th November 2014.