Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

Movie Review – Foxcatcher

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Foxcatcher, rated R
** ½


I had been looking forward for a long time to seeing this film starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo. The film, which finally opened nationally on Friday, received three major Oscar nominations last week, with Carell (Best Actor), Ruffalo (Best Supporting Actor) and Bennett Miller (Director). Miller had previously directed Capote and Moneyball, films for which he was also nominated for the Oscar for Best Director.

The film, which is set in 1987, is based on true events, though like most films of this nature, some liberties are taken with the truth. We’ll only focus on what we see in the film. We meet Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and his older brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo). Both have won Olympic gold medals in wrestling and they care for each other very much. We find out later in the film that Dave helped raise Mark, serving as a father figure to him.

Dave’s life is going well. He’s happy being a wrestling coach and married to Nancy (Sienna Miller). The couple has two small children. Mark on the other hand lives alone, doesn’t seem to have much money, nor any friends other than Dave. He is training for the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and that seems to be the sole focus of his life.

Out of nowhere he gets a call from a representative of multimillionaire John Eleuthere DuPont (a creepy and almost unrecognizable Steve Carell) to come visit him at his 800 acre Foxcatcher farm in Pennsylvania, which he does. DuPont, who knows nothing about wrestling, explains that he wants to have Mark and the other U.S. wrestlers train at his new state of the art training facility at the farm, and that he will pay him a good salary to do so. DuPont paints himself as a patriot. He also wants Dave to come to the farm, but much to Mark’s disappointment, Dave doesn’t want to uproot his family. Mark soon drives to Pennsylvania and into very nice accommodations on the farm.

DuPont has a difficult relationship with his mother Jean (Vanessa Redgrave), who cares more about her prized horses than her son. Is this interest in Olympic wrestling a way to impress his mother and gain her favor? He longs to have a gold medal to put next to the other family trophies and awards

Does DuPont have other more personal motivations? He wants to be seen as a friend, father figure, coach and mentor to Mark. He seems to have some homosexual tendencies toward Mark, but the film never fully goes there. While Mark is supposed to be training, Du Pont introduces him to cocaine. We see Mark drinking heavily and taking a break from training. When Mark’s relationship with DuPont sours, DuPont finally convinces Dave to come to the farm with his family to coach Mark and get him ready for the upcoming competition.

The film is overly long at 134 minutes and could have been edited down by Miller. At times the dialogue almost grinds to a halt. I grew to despise DuPont (a credit to Carell’s excellent acting performance), and as a result cannot say that I actually liked this film, though I did appreciate the performances of Carell, Ruffalo and Tatum.

The film is rated “R” due to a brief view of Channing’s buns, some violence and only minimal adult language. This film should have followed the actual story, which would have made a much more compelling plotline (for example, the police turned off the boilers that heated the 44-room Foxcatcher Estate where duPont had been hiding for two days. He had barricaded himself in the mansion’s steel-lined library. They captured him when he came out to fix the boilers.) For more fact vs. fiction go to


Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

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