Foxcatcher (Blu-ray)

March 4, 2015 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

You might have to do a double take, but that’s Steve Carell on the posters for this film. The actor is hardly recognizable disguised with a prosthetic nose and teeth as well as heavy makeup. It’s also quite possibly his best performance to date. While the film certainly won’t be for everyone, Foxcatcher has a lot going for it, and will likely stay with you long after it has ended. Based on a true story, the film stars Channing Tatum as Mark Schultz. He is a wrestler as well as his older, more popular brother, Dave (Mark Ruffalo).  We see a bit of the brother’s daily routine as they train vigorously. One day Mark receives a phone call that Billionaire John du Pont (Carell) wants him to work at his Foxcatcher estate. John is certainly a unique individual, but Mark is more than eager to join him. Eventually, he brings his brother Dave there as well. The film is set during the 1980’s as the next Olympics are approaching. The focus of the film is more on these three central characters rather than a heavy plot. We slowly start to see a darker side to the Du Pont character as he feels a distance growing between himself and the Schultz brothers, especially Mark.

I’m sure there are many people who are familiar with the real life story, but I feel compelled to keep that element a secret for those who don’t know the outcome. The film is very deliberately paced, building slowly to its tragic conclusion. It might even be too slow for some viewers, and will certainly leave others with a cold feeling. I still can’t say I love it, but something about it stays with me. That counts for something in my book. Highest praise must be given to the acting. Carell is simply amazing here. Ruffalo also does nice work. He’s careful not to overplay it, and that’s adds a nice understated quality to his performance. I was most surprised at how effective Channing Tatum’s performance was. We really get to see the vulnerable side of Mark as he’s under du Pont’s guidance. As the film progresses we slowly see another side to John du Pont. His mother doesn’t think much of him sponsoring wrestlers as she feels wrestling to be a “low” sport. One thing that surprised me most about the film is that it truly lets the viewer decide how to feel about these characters. In a way, it keeps us at arm’s length. We see Du Pont and his oddball behavior, but never really learn why he acts the way he does. The same can be said of the Schultz brothers. I never really got the feeling of what motivated them beyond the basic desire to give their best. Still, something about the film maintained my interest. There’s not a lot of action, or drama for that matter, but I found it strangely fascinating.

Video: How’s it look?

We get a solid transfer from Sony. Details were always evident and the print used is pristine, never showing any major flaws to speak of. Background details are also strong as well. The film’s setting is certainly pleasing to the eye, and that only adds to the experience here. Facial features, specifically of Carell are heightened here and give strong clarity. I can’t find anything negative to say, this transfer satisfies. The image is AVC encoded with a 1.85:1 ratio.

Audio: How’s it sound?

While not an action film, the DTS HD track still offers a rewarding experience. Several of the wrestling scenes have a raw quality to them, and the track does a nice job of replicating that here. Vocals were always strong and clear as well. We do get some background noise from time to time, but don’t expect too much from the rear channels. I feel fans will be pleased with this track.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • The Story of Foxcatcher – This feature is just 16 minutes, but has a surprising amount of detail. We learn of the casting, the actual story, Channing Tatum’s initial hesitation with the film as well as a mix of other topics. It’s well worth checking out.
  • Deleted Scenes – We get two brief clips that offer a bit more insight into the characters.
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Previews
  • Digital Copy

The Bottom Line

Let’s get one thing clear: Foxcatcher won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. In fact, it might even leave many viewers with a cold, uneasy feeling. It’s possible that was intentional, but either way you shake it, the film is hard to forget. Headlined by three effective performances, it’s got enough merit to warrant a viewing. It might not hold strong replay value, but it does a good job of showing how love can quickly lead to betrayal. I do wish the disc had a bit more features, though.

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