Sunday, November 30, 2014

Foxcatcher [2014]

MPAA (R)  ChicagoTribune (3 Stars) (2 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C+)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (M. Zoller Seitz) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review  

Foxcatcher [2014] (directed by Bennett Miller, screenplay by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman) based on the actual 1996 murder [NYTimes] of former Olympic gold-medal winning wrestler turned wrestling coach David Schultz by John Eleuthère du Pont (yes, of the billionaire Du Pont family) tells one sad, sad triangle of a story (there's also Mark Schultz, also a gold-medal winning wrestler, but never quite as good, nor as charismatic as his older brother) about limitations:

 John Eleuthère du Pont (played in the film to IMHO Oscar nomination worthy heights by Steve Carrell) is SUPER-RICH but ... off, and off to an extent that no matter how much money he had, he was destined to have a difficult and disappointing / frustrating life, somehow serving as living, walking, breathing proof that MONEY ITSELF can't buy EITHER LOVE or HAPPINESS.

Mark Schultz (played in the film again to Oscar nomination worthy or at least consideration worthy levels by Channing Tatum) is AN OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST and yet, not particularly bright, and DAMNED to be THE YOUNGER BROTHER of a BOTH EVEN MORE SUCCESSFUL AND THEN FAR MORE CHARISMATIC OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST ... IN THE SAME SPORT.  Oh, TO BE a GOLD MEDALIST and STILL NOT BE ABLE TO ESCAPE FROM FEELING LIKE A LOSER.

And then David Schultz (played in the film, to ... eh, okay, BUT THAT'S ALL THAT WAS NECESSARY levels by Mark Ruffalo) who was the most "together" of trio, NOT RICH but MARRIED WITH KIDS, NOT FEELING THE NEED TO PROVE ANYTHING TO ANYONE ... BUT ... ENDING UP DEAD ... all the same.

Yes, what a (if the shoe fits) "Greek Tragedy" built around a sport invented by ... Greeks.

The film begins with a representative of said Billionaire John with "more money than God" but "with issues" searching out Mark Schultz to make him an offer that the poor post-Olympics sap, a Gold Medalist but in debt, couldn't possibly refuse: "My employer will fly you out on his helicopter to his (or more accurately his 80 year old mother's...) 800 acre horse farm, where you will have your own home, food / all other expenses paid, and you'll be able to do NOTHING but train for the next Games... three years hence."  Poor Mark, what's he supposed to do?  He was worried that his gas was going to be cut off in his appt.

What Mark does do, IS TALK TO HIS OLDER BROTHER DAVE, WHO TELLS HIM that a rep from the SAME "odd rich guy" CAME TO HIM with THE SAME OFFER a couple of weeks before AND HE TOLD HIM NO. ;-). 

Seeing Mark's crest falling before his eyes, Dave, "jumps back" and tells his younger, more struggling brother: "But, I think that this COULD BE a GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU."  Poor Mark, holding his heart in his hands after Dave had it going up and down and all over the place over the last 15 seconds, comes to the final conclusion that Dave's being a "good older brother" and, now, with his blessing, goes back to accept the eccentric weirdo's offer.

Thus begins a long, awkward, story that, yes, IMHO inevitably had to end badly.  Mark was just trying to get by in life.  Billionaire John was trying to grasp for that which his billions could not get him ... and certainly Mark was not what/who he wanted.  Indeed, John wanted Dave, but Mark was what/who he got.  So INEVITABLY Billionaire John starts "pining for" Dave even as Mark who's living on Billionaire John's (er Billionaire John's mother's) 800-acre horse farm, increasingly feels like fundamentally INADEQUATE ... again. 

Eventually (mild spoiler alert) finds a way to buy Dave after all.  BUT (1) how does that make Mark feel? and (2) does he _really_ succeed in "buying Dave."

If nothing else, the story leads to ... where the actual story came to ... with Billionaire John shooting Dave.

This is one heck of a sad, sad story, most filmed mostly in grey skied, slushy, Pennsylvania ... in winter.  But IMHO it's also, one heck of a film, reminding us once more that none of us is a God.

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