July 29, 2015


Foxcatcher easily has the greatest dramatic ensemble for the year 2014. What makes the trio of masculinity so enduring is that they are paragons of speaking silently yet carrying a big stick entails. There are no histrionics which attempt to pull at raw heart-strings. We see the men each intricately become more and more interwoven in their fates, each with their desires which happen to overlap, until the fateful end.


Like the majority of athletic pursuits, the real artists who spend their life’s work not simply mastering but perfecting the craft, go unnoticed and unseen, living maybe not in squalor but certainly immensely modestly compared to the divas of prime time theatrical sports televised. Greco-Roman wrestling typifies such a sport, with David Shulz the older and haloed brother of a recently gold-minted medalist at the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984. All we see between the older and younger brother is a deep fraternal love. There is no bickering, for they are so intimate with one another that they can move beyond simply finishing each other’s sentences if need be. It is only gently hinted at the struggles they had leading, frankly, directionless lives growing up. Undoubtedly, wrestling like many other sports in general, provide youth with an aim, a mission, something tangible to work on and cultivate and perfect. And with such discipline to, yes, obviously win, but most of all, to continue the process of perfecting oneself, this can spill over positively in other realms of humanity. Athletics then, seen here, is beyond simply a means to break a sweat, but a spiritual life altogether.


Brooding to stage right is John E. du Point. Heir to the du Point family fortune, who became smitten with wrestling, possibly because of its sheer naked male, and almost homoerotic, aggressiveness, as a covert counter-point to his overbearing mother’s extremely feminine obsession with the equestrian. While the same sense of perfection is at head with horse sports, it is much more maternal and nurturing. One is care-giving as practicing the art, not necessarily coaching. In any event, it must go completely unseen the inner plot of du Point to lure the wrestling virtuosos, hungry to win and ever-grateful for sponsorship, to slowly not only begin to share the spoils, but to claim ownership of the winnings themselves.


It simply becomes too much for the humble little brother Mike Shulz to handle the pressure, and then the resentment from the hand that feeds him. Mr. Carrell puts on an all-time astounding acting performance as Mr. du Point, in an almost cerebral sociopathic man who no one actually feels sorry for, since he has been able to buy and do whatever he feels like his entire life – which has simply made human relationships themselves commodities and nothing intimate. It must be said how the man arrives at middle-age with only toys and no love from a wife; his emotional maturity had clearly been stunted.


It’s not worth revealing how tragic the saga ends. It can only be summarized as stunning. And stunningly depressing, that what appeared to be a means for three individual men to elevate a sport they are all passionate for wound up being nothing more than an illusory pet hobby for a rich kid man-child who threw a temper tantrum which resulted in murder. It’s not worth commenting on this illustration of the inevitable downward swing in social mobility always neglected when speaking of wealth inequality. With great privileges comes great responsibility – it’s a shame Mr. du Point’s mother cared more about raising horses than men.


Grade: A



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