“There are great American movies, and then there are great movies that take America as their very subject, from ‘Greed’ and ‘Citizen Kane’ to ‘There Will Be Blood’ and ‘The Social Network.’ ‘Foxcatcher’ has that same, soaring ambition, and it can hold its own in that august company.”
So reads the Variety pull quote on Sony Pictures Classics’ new poster for “Foxcatcher,” arriving in theaters on November 14, which promises a blaze of majesty from director Bennett Miller (below). Part existential murder mystery, part Freudian detective story and fully an indictment of the American success story, “Foxcatcher” is a chilly and oblique experience with gobsmacking performances from Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Steve Carell.
All three Oscar contenders are unrecognizable. Tatum and Ruffalo play the Schultz brothers who, in the mid-1980s through ’90s, gunned for Olympic wrestling glory under the spell of schizophrenic billionaire patron John du Pont, who murdered the elder Dave (Ruffalo) in 1996. The road to the film’s horrifying conclusion is paved with inexorable doom: Miller shoots with the chilling, furious precision of mid-career Kubrick, leaving us chilled to the bone with little to grab onto.
The well-timed November 14 release augurs Oscar ambitions for Miller’s third feature, which Jane Campion’s Cannes jury awarded the Best Director prize. But “Foxcatcher” may prove too cold and ponderous a film for most.
The film closes AFI Fest on November 13. Our TOH! Cannes report is here.