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"Foxcatcher": Wrestling Is a Dangerous Sport 

Tuesday, Nov 18 2014
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So now we know what happens when the too-eccentric millionaire heir to a dynasty of chemicals herds guileless young men into his basement for some competitive grappling. In retrospect it surely was a red flag when John Du Pont, seeking to redeem a fallen 1980s America through Olympic wrestling, brought his pistol into the practice room — every coach has his own methods, of course, but Foxcatcher takes pains to reiterate that some are unsustainable. The director is Bennett Miller, of Capote and Moneyball, here earnestly spinning a true-crime yarn into a very serious picture indeed. Most significant of Du Pont's hopefuls were the Schultz brothers, Mark and Dave, played by Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo with the right body language for a fine duet of oafish credulousness. It seems like a key expository detail that after a few minutes of these two quietly throwing each other around on the mat, Dave is the one who asks for a hug. As Du Pont, in distracting makeup, Steve Carell turns his discipline for about-to-pop stillness to tragic instead of comic purposes. That means a lot of ghoulish lingering, and processing the assertion from a formidably chilly mother (Vanessa Redgrave) that wrestling is a "low" sport. It being sometimes a silly sport is a fact that all involved in Foxcatcher seem unwilling to admit, so Tatum's dutiful prestige performance, in particular, misses out on his flair for the self-deprecating goof. Meanwhile, though nobody will notice come awards time, Anthony Michael Hall, as a muted Du Pont functionary, does some of the best and least affected acting in the whole movie.

About The Author

Jonathan Kiefer

SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.

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