“FOXCATCHER” My rating: B
129 minutes | MPAA rating: R
Funny guy Steve Carell dons prosthetic teeth and nose for “Foxcatcher,” transforming himself into the fabulously wealthy and seriously unhinged John du Pont, a convicted murderer who died in prison in 2010.
He’s flanked in the film by Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo, both of whom give career-high performances.
Yet despite this terrific acting (or because of it), “Foxcatcher” is a squirm-worthy experience. We know going in that it will end badly, but Carell — with director Bennett Miller (“Capote,” “Moneyball”) and writers E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman — ups the ante by creating a mood of queasy uneasiness that slowly builds in intensity until you want to jump out of your skin.
Which puts this critic in the weird position of subtracting points because the movie was too effective. At the risk of seeming a philistine, it is difficult to wholly recommend a movie that makes one feel so uncomfortable for two hours-plus.
The story begins in the mid-’80s with wrestler Mark Schultz (Tatum), who with his older brother Dave (Ruffalo) was a big winner at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
While Dave is a family man with a decent gig teaching and coaching at a university, the unmarried, solitary Mark seems to be circling the drain, a not-terribly-bright jock whose glory days are behind him. He’s reduced to donning his gold medal to give talks to elementary school kids for a few bucks.
Enter the mysterious John du Pont, a ferret-like individual who invites Mark to become part of his Team Foxcatcher, a privately funded wrestling community the multimillionaire maintains on his vast estate.
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