2014 Movie Reviews: Foxcatcher

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Every year, there’s that one film that gets a ton of Oscar attention and praise that I just can’t stand. There was The Tree Of Life, Amour, and last year, American Hustle. This year, it’s Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher.

I’m mostly familiar with Miller’s work through Moneyball, another sports-oriented drama. However, Moneyball managed to make the politics of baseball seem really exciting, but this is a film about wrestling in which I found it difficult to stay awake. The number one problem with this movie is the editing. They could have cut about 40 minutes and you wouldn’t miss a thing. Not to mention there are so many pauses in the dialogue and moments where nothing is happening at all. This is one of those movies that you can put on in the background while you’re doing something else – it doesn’t require your full attention.

For example, the opening of the film shows Channing Tatum’s character going through his daily life. There’s a little exposition, but it’s mostly just watching him do pretty boring things. And once he goes to visit his brother, they try wrestling each other. Or rather, practicing wrestling techniques on each other but doing very gentle versions of them and waiting about 30 seconds in between techniques.

Now, you could argue that the film’s slow pace is trying to build up atmosphere, but there isn’t much atmosphere to build up. What this film needed was a stronger emphasis on screenplay and dialogue. It’s clear that this movie has a fine story but has no idea how to tell it properly. The film doesn’t know what to put emphasis on, and as a result, we end up missing what should have been crucial plot points. For those of you who know the true story, you would know what Carell’s character does at the end of the film. However, this action comes out of nowhere and we’re not entirely sure why he does it, almost as if the filmmakers were trying to have a twist ending.

If the film does have one saving grace, it’s the acting. Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, and especially Steve Carell bring a lot of weight to characters that really aren’t well written. But it’s just not enough to save the film, and if these characters had been well written, then maybe the performances would have been more noteworthy. The film also has decent cinematography, and pretty convincing makeup, but it does’t really help the film’s case. I’m not sure if Foxcatcher will get any Oscar nominations, but I do know that the film fails at being entertaining or engaging.

**

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