John du Pont: A coach is a father. A coach is a mentor. A coach has great power.
Bennett Miller, the Academy Award nominated director of CAPOTE and MONEYBALL, returns with another stellar turn behind the camera, FOXCATCHER, the true story of a truly eerie American crime story. In doing so, not only does he solidify himself as one of the most consistent directors working today but he also pulls career changing performances out of stars, Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum.
Tatum plays professional wrestler, Mark Schultz. In the mid to late 80’s, Mark had already won a gold medal at the Los Angelas Olympic Games in 1984, and he already had his sights on Seoul in 1988. Eccentric multimillionnaire, John du Pont (played by a nearly unrecognizable, Carrell), took an interest in the sport of wrestling, and in Mark, going so far as to bring him out to Foxcatcher Farms on his estate to sponsor his career in wrestling. This took Mark away from his brother, Dave (Mark Ruffalo), himself an Olympic gold medalist in wrestling as well, but it also provided Mark with two things he never had before in his life. This would mark the first time that he would have the chance to distinguish himself as an individual force in the sport of wrestling, now that he was no longer in his brother’s shadow. It would also provide both Mark and John the opportunity for friendship, something that had eluded them both throughout the years.
Their friendship is hardly a healthy one but these two recluses find solace in each other, which in turn helps them both be better versions of themselves. After a falling out, John invites Dave to the farm to come on as coach and their relationship is never the same. Channing and Carrell communicate the distress in their relationship so delicately and subtly, both internalizing so much conflict that is expressed mostly non-verbally, and sometimes violently. Miller doesn’t present too much in terms of psychological explanation behind their breakdown. Instead, he takes a big risk and leaves that task to the actors themselves to convey. Their success is not only a relief but also revelation.