Foxcatcher: Dreams and expectations gone awry | Sunday Observer

Foxcatcher: Dreams and expectations gone awry

Winning an Olympic gold is the dream of a lifetime to perhaps virtually any athlete who has committed himself to a chosen sport which ranks among events competed in the Olympics. And there are also the coaches and backers of those athletes who see much of their dreams riding on the performance of their ‘stars’. Produced and directed by Bennett Miller, ‘Foxcatcher’ is a film that looks at the events which led American multimillionaire John Eleuthère du Pont, heir to one of the largest industrial and business fortunes in the USA, to be convicted for murder of Olympic gold medallist wrestler Dave Schultz.

In terms of genre and themes Foxcatcher can be classified as a biopic which relates to sports and true crime. The story looks at how the rich and powerful du Pont who was a wrestling enthusiast, built up his wrestling team –‘Team Foxcatcher’ by recruiting star wrestlers Dave Schultz and his younger brother Mark; and how through their achievements du Pont sought to elevate his image in the folds of ‘sports stardom’.

The film shows the somewhat eccentric du Pont in his sprawling Pennsylvania estate, who builds up his relationship with Mark Schultz recruited first with a lucrative offer to be trained and paid as a member of Team Foxcatcher, and how this relationship deteriorates and finally results in the murder of Dave Schultz who doesn’t comply with his employer’s requirement to be proclaimed as the coach and mentor who is behind the success that Dave Shultz achieves in both world championship wrestling and at wrestling in the Olympics.

As a biopic Foxcatcher shows the mindset of du Pont being affected by his mother’s disapproval of wrestling as a sport that is beneath their status,which is an aristocratic family heritage. A passionate equestrian, she calls it a ‘low sport’. The troubled mind of du Pont unfolds with how he abuses psychotropic substances such as, cocaine and in fact introduces Mark Schultz to this drug when he begins to bond with Mark following the success the younger Shultz brother brings Team Foxcatcher at international wrestling championships.

The relationship that du Pont develops with his employee Mark is however brittle and fraught with the issues that the multimillionaire sports enthusiast has, going back to his childhood which is clearly said to have been lonely and virtually friendless, since during his childhood his mother had actually paid a boy to be his friend.

The troubled mind of du Pont which is connected to his desire to be held in high esteem by the members of Team Foxcatcher and to be accredited as the man who was behind the coaching that marks their success, takes drastic turns towards the end.

The demented state of du Pont’s mind brings out a cold murderousness that completely belies what may be thought of him outwardly and the portrayal of this character by Steve Carell is done brilliantly. The portrayals of the Shultz brothers – Dave and Mark by Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum respectively complements the scheme of relationships that are built up in the film’s narrative in connection with the character of du Pont.

The acting one sees in this work of cinema is quite commendable and noteworthy. And, as a drama film which has crime as a defining element, the aspect of crime in this film is not meant to be realised until the very end which creates quite a shock. It is not a fast paced movie meant to thrill its audience but stirs the storm subtly. Surely not a film to disappoint those who enjoy the biopic drama film genre.