After what has felt like an eternity of a wait, Bennett Miller’s upcoming psychological thriller Foxcatcher has debuted at the Cannes Film Festival and the word is that we have an Oscar contender in our midst. Starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo, the film was originally slated for release last December before surprisingly being pulled from Sony Pictures Classics’ slate. Since then, the film has been given a new release date and a very high profile premiere at Cannes.
A few weeks ago on our weekly podcast, Terence asked a very intelligent question, asking if Foxcatcher could be this generation’s Silence of the Lambs? According to the reviews down below, could be.
Robbie Collin of The Telegraph calls is ‘dark and delerious’:
Miller has always been intrigued by dramas based in truth, and Capote and Moneyball were both widely recognised as great pictures, impeccably crafted. But Foxcatcher is something dark and delirious, yet rigidly controlled: a film to be considered alongside David Fincher’s The Social Network and Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master as a swirling, smoke-black parable of modern America.
Zach Lewis of Sound & Sight calls Tatum the next Robert DeNiro:
Though Foxcatcher may revel a bit much in its bleak American stage, the distinct powerhouse performances alone are reminiscent of those orchestrated by Renoir and Welles. Miller’s writers have a keen eye for introducing shades of noirish substance into a transgressive allegory of power, but Miller’s own cool, broad tone softens its blow until its wild, grim finale. Foxcatcher plays less like a movie for sports-lovers; it’s more an inquiry into the spiritually-charged personalities that make athletics enthralling. It carries the ghost of Raging Bull with Tatum setting his own stage as the next De Niro.
John Bleasdale of Cinevue calls Mark Ruffalo, the standout:
However, despite these two stellar performances, it’s Ruffalo who ultimately steals the film. His Dave is a warm, perceptive man who loves his brother, his children and his wife. He’s also a genuine mentor. Whereas du Pont never opens a door for himself, Dave is forever fixing things and teaching moves. A penned reminder on the back of his hand tells Dave to “PU KIDS”. Ruffalo’s real-life political activism also arguably informs his role, as a working-class Joe stands in opposition to Carrell’s Mr. Potter-like need to own and control everything.
Justin Chang of Variety says its a contender from Cannes:
In “Capote” and “Moneyball,” Bennett Miller gazed into the souls of real-life American iconoclasts launching bold and unexpectedly costly new enterprises, a theme that the director has now taken to powerfully disturbing extremes in his great, brooding true-crime saga “Foxcatcher.” Chronicling the events leading up to the 1996 murder of Dave Schultz, the Olympic wrestling champion who tragically found the wrong benefactor in the Pennsylvania multimillionaire John E. du Pont, this insidiously gripping psychological drama is a model of bleak, bruising, furiously concentrated storytelling, anchored by exceptional performances from Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and an almost unrecognizable Steve Carell. Perhaps the sole credible awards-season heavyweight to have emerged from this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the Nov. 14 Sony Classics release should land with major impact among serious-minded moviegoers, as well as a possible cross-section of Tatum and Carell fans who don’t mind a dramatic change of pace.
Sasha Stone for The Wrap predicts Carell to get the praise:
Carell will likely be the focus of much of the praise for “Foxcatcher.” He disappears into du Pont, presenting a dark and mostly unlikable lead. His mere presence is unsettling.
But his cold, heartless demeanor is offset by the other two leads, the extremely likable Ruffalo and Tatum. Tatum challenges himself here, unearthing vulnerability we’ve always known he had. He punishes himself for letting his integrity be bought and sold. Ruffalo gives the film its solid moral center: You do good work, you don’t get bought off, you stand up for what’s right. And it gets you nothing.
Guy Lodge at HitFix gives much praise to Carell:
A sometime ornithologist with a beaky prosthetic nose to match, Carell’s du Pont is a figure whose self-evidently absurd vanity — this is a man who prefers to be addressed as “Golden Eagle” by his friends — doesn’t preclude his frightening powers of persuasion: when he senses Mark eventually resisting his grip, he instead plays on the older siblings’s protective instincts to paint both men into a cold corner. Deftly playing variations on one softly sinister note, Carell’s wittily grotesque performance fashions du Pont as the non-cartoon equivalent of C. Montgomery Burns — his feeble posture and listless, slurry vocal delivery a constant physical riposte to his delusions of grandeur.
Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood uses Oscar’s name:
The movie is slow, deliberate and not cinematically flashy, although much skill is involved. A movie about incommunicative people imploding on their swallowed feelings commands a high degree of difficulty. These people are not inherently charming or interesting or attractive, although the brothers are decent, likable people. Miller has drawn superb performances from his actors, who learned how to wrestle impressively and worked closely with the surviving Schultz. I suspect that it will be Carrell who lands an Oscar nod; Sony Pictures Classics will push him and Tatum as leads with Ruffalo and Redgrave in supporting. They might have a better shot with Tatum in lead and Carell in supporting.
Jessica Kiang of The Playlist loves it:
Unfolding slowly and deliberately, in rubber-floored gyms, ugly hotel rooms and chintzy overdecorated parlors and trophy rooms, the film tells the true story of a peculiar, almost absurdist crime: the killing of an ex-Olympic wrestler by a scion of the fabulously wealthy du Pont family. But really ‘Foxcatcher,’ filmed from a brilliantly economical (even at 134 minutes) script by Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye, is about much grander themes of familial rivalry and ambition, of talent and jealousy and egotism, and of how much we despise the weaknesses in others that we fear we ourselves display. It’s so many things at once and yet none of them is underdeveloped, and as thematically multi-stranded as the story is, tonally and narratively it is totally singleminded: an elegy for the destructive power of the myth of American exceptionalism, and how lofty ideals can become corrupted and perverted by the agendas of subconsciously terrified little men.
Here are some Twitter Reactions
FOXCATCHER holds its place at Oscar table but a bit dark for BP. More importantly it’s damn good. Carrell, Tatum, Ruffalo excel #cannes2014
— Craig Kennedy (@LivingInCinema) May 19, 2014
FOXCATCHER: Just remarkable. A modest three-hander that feels massive, about privilege, madness and the American dream #cannes
— olilyttelton (@olilyttelton) May 19, 2014
Foxcatcher – Damn. Tatum is phenomenal, Carell is a solid creeper. Bennett Miller’s best work yet, another intimate, exceptional char study.
— Alex Billington (@firstshowing) May 19, 2014
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