Monday, 12 January 2015

Foxcatcher (2 Stars)

Sometimes I don't understand the professional film critics. Why has this film been praised so loudly? How has it managed to win various awards? I found it exceedingly dull. Admittedly, the film is based on a true story, so the pacing is dictated by real life events, but it could have been made more interesting. Compare it with "Pierrepoint", a biopic which manages to enthral the viewer from beginning to end.

Even though the events happened during my life, I knew nothing about them or the characters portrayed, and I deliberately made no attempt to inform myself before going to see the film. All I knew was that there had been complaints from Mark Schultz about the film's accuracy.

The film follows the relationship of the wrestler Mark Schultz and the millionaire wrestling fan John Du Pont from 1987 to 1988. The final scenes take place in 1996, although no date is given and they seem to follow directly from what had happened before.

In 1984 Mark Schultz won an Olympic Gold Medal for wrestling. Despite this he lived in poor conditions in the following years. In 1987 the millionaire John Du Pont offers Mark $25,000 a year and a house on his estate to train for the 1987 wrestling world championships and the next Olympic Games. At first a strong friendship develops between the two men, but the relationship turns sour and Mark begins to despise his benefactor. This leads to Mark performing poorly at the 1988 Olympic Games and being eliminated in the preliminary rounds.

Apart from brief appearances by other characters, the film is only about three people: John Du Pont, Mark Schultz and Mark's older brother Dave Schultz. While I don't doubt the capabilities of actors Steve Carell and Channing Tatum, they are very difficult to relate to on screen. Mark Schultz is a hard-nosed introvert, while John Du Pont is an obviously deranged person torn between his obsession with wrestling and his desire to be accepted by his mother. Only Dave Schultz is warm and outgoing, but he plays a small part until late in the film.

Overall, the film is very disappointing. For most of the film nothing happens, and the final scenes seem disjointed and nothing to do with the rest of the film. My rating is generous; I felt tempted to rate the film lower, but I gave it two stars out of respect to the acting performances of the three main characters.

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