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With “Capote” and “Moneyball”, Bennett Miller is one of those people to whose new film I really look forward to. That is the reason why I watched a film about wrestling (of very little interest to me in general) with Steve Carell (who I don’t mind but I have never seen him in anyhing interesting). Foxcatcher got some nasty reviews, but also apparently some enthusiastic ones, keeeping it in the loop for the previous Oscar discussions, at least for the acting of Carell.

At the heart of the film is actually (in my reading) not Carell’s billionaire character, but Channing Tatum’s sad sod of a former Olympic wrestling champion. This is not a very subtle role, so you cannot blame Tatum for performing it with an every-steady slightly dumb facial and physical expression. It did feel a bit one-dimensional after a while though, and I started wishing his brother’s character, played by Mark Ruffalo with outrageous facial hair, had been elaborated a bit more on. But as it was, it came down to the relationship of a delusional rich man and his toys, one of which being “his wrestler”. I suppose this should be uncomfortable to watch at times, because that was what the real-life story was, but the ever-gloomy atmosphere was a bit of a downer.

The film still has some great moments, one of my favourite ones probably being the opening sequence, where we observe a regular training session of a world class wrestler – as with so many professional sports at this level, a depressing thing to watch, while you can still admire the level of the performance. It was also a good choice to not focus on the actual fights that the training builds up to. One reason being that there is no way you can make a wrestling fight interesting. The other being that it does not really matter, it is just a moment in time. After the fight is before the fight, all glamour fades very quickly, and you end up being the motivational  speaker for a class of high school students for a 20 dollar fee.

Despite its flaws (I was never really convinced by Steve Carell’s performance, for example), the atmosphere of the movie is well crafted, even if that means that it is among the least pleasant film experiences I have recently had. Sad sods all around…

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/foxcatcher/

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