Ornithologist, Philatelist, Philanthropist – and Murderer?

foxcatcher-channing-tatum-steve-carell-1OK, just to warn you, I have seen Foxcatcher last night and being the mean person that I am, I have just given you a massive spoiler in the title.
Why? Why am I so mean? Because I care about you and do not wish you waste 2h:30min on this piece of crap of a movie. I thought 12 Years a slave was long, but boy, was I wrong!
Filled with pregnant silences, stares, people watching TV, people crying, people grunting on top of each other while not having sex – this movie offered little in terms of entertainment until the last 10 minutes when one of the main characters, the rich misunderstood boy who had mother issues (Du Pont), goes off and kills his wrestling team trainer (coach) because he thought that he was mocking him??
Me and me boy spent about half an hour in the car debating whether this was the actual reason for the murder…

The plot of the movie

The story is about a former Olympics gold medalist (in the wrestling department), who, after 3 years of winning his medal, needs to give speeches to middle school kids for $20 to be able to afford to eat a bit posh – a burger.

Based on a true story. These are the two brothers Mark and David
Based on a true story. These are the two brothers Mark and David

I thought at first the movie would depict the sad life of people who are mis-treated by their country after bringing fame and glory during the Olympics – but then soon forgotten and left to rot in poverty.
America would not be the first to do this – our own Romanian gymnast team had to pose naked for a men’s magazine in Japan because they offered them money ($50,000) – a sum far larger than what the state considered to be a correct reward for their years of training and hard work.

Mark's real lodgins on the Foxcatcher estate
Mark’s real lodgings on the Foxcatcher estate

When Mark (our main character) is offered an opportunity to meet a rich man (Du Pont) for a proposition, he takes it and finds out that he can be the coach & main player for the following Olympics, sponsored by a person who is a fan of the sport. He is given accommodation, food & a salary to do what he loves best – wrestle.

It sounds like a heaven-sent scenario.

FOXCATCHERNow, any coin has two facets and Mark soon has to realize that in exchange for this generosity, he will need to teach Du Pont how to wrestle and be there for him. He becomes closer to his patron, learning his birds, offering him his gratitude continuously, and winning the first set of Olympics from 1984 in his honor. He even has to give a speech in Washington about the generosity of his new benefactor and there is an entire scene in the movie where for 3-4 minutes they both scream at each other through a helicopter’s headset the correct words: Ornithologist (bird watcher/lover), Philatelist (stamp collector), Philanthropist (generous contributor to arts and sports)
So, they become friends. Du Pont confesses that he never had a friend – his mother whom he highly respects and fears – paid for his childhood friend to be friends with him. We have the sightings of a very lonely person who is desperate for love and companionship and latches on to Mark – who is more than happy to be this person for him.
Happy with his new surroundings and the status of a pet, Mark forgets what he was there to do and soon becomes complacent, urging a scene where Du Pont slaps him in front of his team and calls in his brother (who was also a gold medalist champion) and passes on the training of the team to him.

The relationship has turned sour between all parts involved. Mark no longer wants to work there, he is ashamed of what he has done in his brother’s absence and his brother does not understand what has happened with his brother.
FOXCATCHER

The love between them is real and it can be seen when Mark loses his first match during the 1988 Olympics. Mark goes into a binge eating -self punishment – pity fest and his brother slaps him back to reality and gets him sweaty and hungry enough to pass the weighing test.
Mark wins his next matches but leaves Du Pont and his brother as he embarks on a new adventure (cage fighting).
His brother continues with the team training. Du Pont feels the friend’s absence and tries to connect with David (Mark’s brother) by visiting him on a Sunday.

Sunday is family time

David quickly dismisses Du Pont, setting a clear delimitation with what his boss can do: intruding in the personal space is not allowed.
2014, FOXCATCHERA few months later, Du Pont watches a movie about his greatness as a team lead (a bit of an egomaniac) and then decides in his small mind that David has wronged him somehow.
He gets a driver out and goes to David’s house and he shoots him. Three times. And then drives away.
He is caught later and jailed for life.

Why did he shoot him? Was he lonely and missed Mark? Did he think that just because he paid for David’s salary – he owned him? Did he expect the same treatment from David? Was he envious of David’s happy family life? Of his success? Of the wrestling that he was capable of?

Was he upset that he never amounted to anything in his short life and that his mother had only shown disdain in his hobby by calling it a low sport? Or did he see the interview with David where David was reluctant to say how great Du Pont was and basically lick his arse?

foxcatcher_dupontbw-clip_inset

The End

Was Du Pont Gay?

Looking back, I should have trusted my gut and never let [John du Pont] into my life — or, indeed, the life of my brother a few years later. Everything about him was weird, from the dyed red Ronald McDonald hair with layers of dandruff in the roots to his dark yellow teeth, caked with food. -Mark Schultz, November 2014, NY Post

Even though it is only implied in the movie, Mark Schultz denies all gay-related advances from Du Pont. He would only invade his personal space but he did not make any inappropriate advances. Mark explains in his book that du Pont created a wrestling move called the “Foxcatcher Five,” where one wrestler would grab another wrestler’s testicles with five fingers. Du Pont, who had also provided the funds for Villanova University to build an athletic arena and start a wrestling program in 1986, was let go two years later after facing charges of sexual abuse and other indiscretions. The program was dropped. One of those charges came from another Villanova coach, who said that he was fired because he had refused du Pont’s homosexual advances. -Philadelphia Daily News

To find out what was different in the movie compared to the real life events, check out this link:

http://www.historyvshollywood.com/reelfaces/foxcatcher/

The Acting

04a8cfa976d1d035e6ffb5ce0ab8d012b2f41c8bThe acting by Steve Carell was great – his posture, his voice, his way of looking from the top of his nose downwards – all indicated a very good upbringing of the character he was playing – a statute earned by generations of rich ancestors.
Channing Tatum is also good! He plays the (sometimes moronic) character of Mark easily and you can tell he trained hard to be able to do some of the match scenes. He does not talk much and he even walks that funny walk with his back bent oddly like the real life person he was playing. Totally into the game.

foxcatcher-posterThe Confusion

OK, the story is not complicated; it could have been told easily in 1h:30min of movie time. Heck, it could have been compressed down to 30min to make it a feature on the telly. A documentary.
Dragging the story on by showing snippets of the people’s lives – while adding padding to the time of the movie did not actually make us love or hate the characters more – or offer any specific insight about the movie’s ending.
I think that this will be the reason this movie will fail at the box office.

This and the general sigh of relief I overheard in the cinema when the movie was finally over.
I have never seen so many people rushing out of a room as I did with this movie.

Don’t watch it.

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