This year's biggest Oscar bait award goes to writer/director Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher. That doesn't mean it is a bad film, quite the contrary actually. Unlike last years blatant and astoundingly boring Oscar contender American Hustle (which was also based on a true story), Foxcatcher at least has an interesting story to tell and whose actors deserve the universal praise they have been receiving. However, even with those positive points in its corner, things aren't all roses and wine with this piece of bait. Read the full review after the break.
Review Vital Stats:
Projector Type: Digital 2D
Film Rating: R
Film Runtime: 2 hr 10 min
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Release Date: November 14, 2014
Loves: Witnessing actors perform outside their comfort zone
Likes: Steve Carrell, Mark Ruffalo, Channing Tatum
Neutral: Telling a 90 minute story in 130 minutes.
Hates: Wrestling of any kind
A crime drama?: Someone needs to rethink how they categorize their film genres
|John and Mark's friendship is a very complex one with many hidden layers.|
Let's start with those positive points, the first being the surprising cast that Miller attracted to the project. While it isn't too surprising to see Mark Ruffalo playing hardcore drama with such films like The Kids Are Alright, Shutter Island and Zodiac under his belt, this is far out of the comfort zone for both Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum who are each coming from completely different cinematic backgrounds. What is even more stunning than their apparent need to step out of their respective comfort zones (comedy for Carrell and romance/action for Tatum) is their seamless transformation into these troubled yet fascinating personalities.
|Dave and Mark's relationship isn't any less complex.|
On the other end of the spectrum is Steve Carrell who is barely recognizable under the layers of make up he is forced to wear. Watching Carrell's miraculous transformation from man of comedy into the eccentric and enigmatic John du Pont was reminiscent of what Mike Meyers attempted over 15 years ago with his dramatic turn (also completely unrecognizable) in the film 54. But Carrell's performance is leaps and bounds more successful than Meyer's failed experiment which is in large part due to the character of du Pont who was quite a magnificently strange fellow.
|John's motivations remain a mystery even after the end credits roll.|
Here lies the one and only problem with the film however, which is its excessive length. It makes perfect sense to build up the relationship between Mark and John before Dave gets involved, but there comes a point where the audience understands quite well that there is something off about John, something that just doesn't feel right. But when you realize it Miller seems intent on hammering that point home by adding in all these superfluous scenes with John being creepy or otherwise suspicious. It becomes even more infuriating that all that extra time was spent on developing this mystery behind a character that unfortunately due to the reality of the actual person, never gets explained. Luckily both the acting and story are enough to overcome that oversight because at the very least you are getting more of a good thing which in the case of Foxcatcher, it is a very good thing.
It's difficult to say if the film is worthy of winning a Best Picture nomination, but this reviewer would certainly not argue against it (winning it on the other hand....). With three strong performances from three strong actors, two of which are completely out of their element, and an engaging true story backing it all up it is almost impossible not to recommend the film. In case you need it spelled out for you though, go see it.