Two major Hollywood entertainment websites, along with the largest-circulation newspaper in the U.S., have weighed in with winning reviews for the much-anticipated “Foxcatcher” movie after its debut at the Cannes Film Festival Monday.
Justin Chang, chief film critic for "Variety", wrote, “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.”
Todd McCarthy of “The Hollywood Reporter” said, “Mesmerizing in its incremental layering of a bizarre, tragic and thoroughly warped character study, ‘Foxcatcher’ sees director Bennett Miller well surpassing even the fine work he did in his previous two films, ‘Capote’ and ‘Moneyball.’”
“It's been a long wait for Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher" which seemed a sure-thing award contender in 2013 before it was dramatically rescheduled for a post-awards spring 2014 release,” wrote Bryan Alexander of “USA Today.”
“There were speculative whispers that Miller's follow-up to 2005's ‘Capote’ and 2011's ‘Moneyball’ was somehow not all that,” Alexander continued. “But the whispers came to an abrupt halt on Monday as the film made its world premiere — to loud applause and shouts of ‘Bravo!’ at a screening for international journalists before its gala Cannes premiere Monday night.”
“Variety” went on to weigh in with this powerful statement on “Foxcatcher”: “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.”
Kudos for the actors and wrestlers
“From the beginning, you can't take your eyes off Carell; as if by some secret alchemy, the actor makes you believe that his character is an entirely uncharismatic man while delivering a completely charismatic performance,” wrote “The Hollywood Reporter.” The entertainment publication went on to say, “While Carell dominates with his unexpected performance, he is superbly backed up by his co-stars. Playing a young man who doesn't have a clue how to articulate his feelings and suffers for it, Tatum is a smoldering, festering piece of emotional raw meat, able to be manipulated this way and that by his benefactor. You feel his pain. As the older and exceptionally capable older brother, Ruffalo bestows his character with a profoundly genial nature that suggests that no one could possibly dislike this guy, much less be provoked to murder him.”
“Both Ruffalo, as the charismatic older brother, and Tatum, as the socially awkward younger brother, are also earning plaudits as they took on wrestling bulk and lost themselves in their respective roles,” said “USA Today.” “The wrestling is performed at a high level; the two actors worked for six months of intensive training before filming, often under the coaching of Mark Schultz.”
“Variety” also cited the efforts to portray the world of amateur wrestling.
“In addition to the great brotherly rapport these two actors achieve here, they spent months learning to wrestle and absorbing the Schultz brothers’ signature moves; as choreographed by Jesse Jantzen, their bouts and stunts here are superbly convincing, shot in clean, long takes that allow viewers a clear sense of bodies in motion. These scenes are themselves deftly integrated into a finely detailed portrait of the wrestling community (with appearances by real-life wrestlers including a cameo by Mark Schultz himself)…” according to “Variety.”
“Foxcatcher” will open in U.S. theaters Nov. 14.