“I want to be the best in the world.” Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum), an American 1984 Olympic gold medalist responds with these words to John Du Pont (Steve Carell) after John simply asks, “What do you hope to achieve?” The highly–anticipated psychological drama “Foxcatcher” tells the true story of what happens when Mark joins Du Pont, a schizophrenic heir, to form the 1988 US Olympic wrestling team.
The audience immediately sees a stark contrast between Mark and his brother, Dave (Mark Ruffalo). Mark trains alone and returns to his bleak apartment, while Dave coaches the Stanford wrestling team and has a beautiful wife (Sienna Miller) and children. When John Du Pont reaches out to Mark to form the US Olympic Team, Mark packs his bags and moves to Du Pont’s Foxcatcher Farm in Pennsylvania to begin training. Du Pont’s aspirations to save US wrestling are clear in his interaction with the team, and with Mark in particular. Although first presented as an opportunity for Mark to step out of his brother’s shadow, Dave soon joins Team Foxcatcher and the tensions between him, Mark and Du Pont ultimately lead to tragedy.
He’s no male stripper or undercover cop, but Channing Tatum’s commanding performance captures the harsh reality of an athlete who strives for recognition. Steve Carell subtly but successfully personifies Du Pont’s chilling, detached demeanor. His eeriness later raises questions about his mental stability, and he even shows up to training one day with a gun. Scenes with dialogue emphasized the silence when neither character spoke, which helped foster dramatic tension and created a realistic environment for the audience. This lack of sound only enhanced and heightened the emotions in the film.
“Foxcatcher” is a truly powerful film that brings a fresh and unique story to the screen. Despite the violence associated with wrestling, director Bennett Miller successfully portrays wrestling not only as a sport, but as an art. The noteworthy acting of its renowned stars has lead the film to receive critical acclaim, and after eight years in the making, the film finally illuminates the screen with the life of a wrestling champion.