Foxcatcher ★★★

Foxcatcher is two hours of character-exploration and motivation building, all leading up to one absurd event that occurs in the last twenty minutes. As soon as this event occurs, it immediately elevates all of the slow-burn before it. Problem is, without that end point in mind, the first two hours are boring.

Foxcatcher is also an excuse for actors to play against type. Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum strain to play two mumbling loners, John and Mark, who both bitterly live in shadows of family member’s greatness. The film makes it clear why the two would be attracted to each other. They don’t have friends. They don’t have fathers. They both think they can fill the void in the other’s life. And they lash out at people who get in the way of that. This includes Mark Ruffalo’s character Dave. Ruffalo is least stretching his range here, and comes away the better for it--although his character does come across as a bit too saintly.

Foxcatcher brilliantly constructs these men’s psyches as it theorizes why the absurd event occurs. The build-up is justified in retrospect, but the tedium on the way there may be unforgivable. Director Bennet Miller’s style is fairly invisible, deciding to let the actors do most of the lifting. There is an atmospheric dread throughout thanks to some great music and foggy, wintery mise-en-scene, but I found myself wishing for some David Fincher style cutting or camera movement to quicken the pace.

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