“Money–so they say, is the root of all evil today.” –Pink Floyd
Money and power can corrupt. Mix the two, and you can end up with deadly results. Rich celebrities and famous heirs have made headline news for years trying to buy their way out of scandals. Phil Spector, legendary music producer and weirdo wig-wearer, was found guilty for murdering a woman in his mansion. The case was covered day and night until his verdict was made public. Do I even need to even mention OJ Simpson? Even within the past week, New York real estate heir and millionaire odd ball, Robert Durst, has been arrested after confessing to murdering people since the 1980’s. In 1996, I remember watching the news which reported Pennsylvania millionaire and heir, John du Pont, had a standoff with police on his Valley Forge estate after shooting and killing Olympic wrestler, Dave Schultz. These events are now dramatized in the outstanding film, Foxcatcher (2014).
Based on true events and book of the same name, three years after his 1984 Olympic Gold Medal winning performance, freestyle wrestler Mark Schultz, Channing Tatum of 21 Jump Street (2012), is invited to live with eccentric millionaire philanthropist and sponsor John du Pont, Steve Carell of The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), on his vast estate outside of Philadelphia to form a team and train for the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Mark impressed with du Pont’s enthusiasm towards wrestling and patriotism, jumps at the rare opportunity to train at the new state-of-the-art training facility “Foxcatcher” (not as cool as the one Ivan Drago trained in Rocky IV though). Hoping to focus on his training and making a name for himself, Mark is desperate to step out of the shadow of his world renowned older brother and wrestler, Dave, Mark Ruffalo of Zodiac (2007). As time passes, Mark grows more dependent towards du Pont and views him as a
father-figure and mentor, needful for his approval, he caves to the pressure to please him like a son and begins to turn to negative behavior that affects his spirit and training.
Paranoia and psychosis cause du Pont to take a turn for the worse, mainly due to heavy drug abuse and the proclivity to impress his demanding and cold mother, Vanessa Redgrave of The Devils (1971), every wakening hour of the day. Mark angers du Pont which leads him to fall out of favor, and du Pont out of spite, hires Dave to be the head trainer at team Foxcatcher. Mark’s self-esteem goes down for the count as he begins to hate du Pont with his manipulation, growing jealousy and feelings of betrayal towards his brother Dave. Like most brothers, no matter how strained at times, they still love each other and start to bond again showing that blood is stronger than de Pont’s power or his money. Coach du Pont increasing in erratic behavior and lack of understanding about how deep the ties of brothers run, becomes crazy like a fox, and takes dire actions in revenge for being alienated by the two grapplers. The psychotic du Pont’s actions would fracture the relationship between the three forever.
Award winning Foxcatcher is a biographical crime drama directed by Bennett Miller of Moneyball (2011) and scribed by Dan Futterman of Capote (2005) and E. Max Frye of Amos & Andrew (1993). Foxcatcher is a darkly disturbing and compelling tale that showcases the dedication Carell, Tatum, and Ruffalo have towards their craft and the source material in this dark drama. The three are outstanding in their roles as they fully embody their characters in mind, body, and soul (gaining weight and altering their appearances with prosthetics). It is safe to say that these are the best performances up to this date. Tatum and Ruffalo spent an intensive six months working out and training as wrestlers to add authenticity to their roles. The three actors’ interpersonal dynamics deliver such desperation, conflict, and tragedy that are believable and, at most times, very engaging and compelling to the audience.
Miller delivers a well-paced, honest character study which is complemented by the visual winteresque style of cinematographer Greig Fraser of Let Me In (2010). Miller ran a serious set to keep the tone of the film throughout and even forbade Carell from joking or hanging out with fellow actors off set to force him to stay in character of the socially peculiar du Pont. Foxcatcher was in preproduction hell for years, and the original cast to be considered were Heath Ledger of The Dark Knight (2008), Ryan Gosling of Drive (2011), and Bill Nighy of Pirate Radio of (2009), starring in the lead roles.
So if you are looking for an interesting crime drama, go to the mat with Foxcatcher, you won’t be disappointed. Though you may desire to have fame and fortune, sometimes these desires lead people to grow neurotic, paranoid and unlikeable. Just look at how famous people or celebrities generally act. Sometimes it’s downright nauseating with their shallowness, sense of entitlement, and their inability to connect with normal people. Be humble and happy for what you have and remember what philosopher Plato said, “The greatest wealth is to live content with little.”