Foxcatcher - Blu-ray Review

'a slow burn narrative that has the dubious 'benefit' of a true life conclusion that's barely believable'

Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher is a quietly impressive film, with a showcase for Steve Carell, an actor not often blessed with the label 'significant screen presence' but, nevertheless, one of the finest screen presences going.

The concept of presence is a slightly misquoted one, which often seems to be bestowed on actors with some sort of heft; Tom Hardy in... everything. Vince Vaughn in TV's True Detective. Josh Brolin in... a Mercedes-Benz advert. But presence is something else, a level of watchability that means you gravitate towards actors whenever they're on screen, or that prompts them to stand out amongst a collection of other talented performers. Carell, in ageing and substantial nose make-up, has this here as John du Pont, but he also had it in last Summer's The Way Way Back, playing an Average Joe schlubb. As a comic actor, he's great; as a dramatic one he could be outstanding, which he is here.

The film is more of a mixed bag, a slow burn narrative that has the dubious 'benefit' of a true life conclusion that's barely believable. Miller plays his cards the only way he can really, keeping the events of the finale from view, but that still doesn't change the fact that they jar and alter the film; what is essentially a quiet character study becomes something else very suddenly.

The subtext is more interesting, but nothing without a more consistent on screen experience. DuPont might have the gunpowder, but he lacks the tinder to light it. Perhaps that analogy is falsely representative; DuPont has the gun, the gunpowder and the tinder, but he has no idea where to fire it, how to get the desired reaction. He is American excess and imperialism, marauding through long, lonely lands (his palatial estate), uncertain how to exert influence over them, to bring what he and his mother (Vanessa Redgrave) might term success.

It's a beautiful film, with noble intentions to expand its tragedy out into something wider than its own, narrow, focus. But ultimately, the film's well-told narrative of American over-reaching, punctuated with a blatant undercurrent of not having the ability to fulfil dreams, never surprises (beyond the jarring finale), becomes compelling or establishes a higher gear at which to operate. It's never a dull film, but it does flatline throughout, dragging you, rather than leading.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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