Looks like we’ve got ourselves a contender. If the reviews out of the Cannes Film Festival are any indication, primarily comedic actor Steve Carell should demand to be taken a lot more seriously from now on. The actor’s turn as sociopathic multimillionaire John DuPont in Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher is earning rave reviews.
Indiewire’s Jessica Kiang was particularly effusive over the unrecognizable performance where Carell is fitted with a prosthetic nose and a wheezy, stilted voice, writing: “Carell is the revelation that everyone has suggested in the role, and then some: vocally, physically and psychologically he is not just unrecognizable, he simply is a different man, and a man whose tragic flaw (cursed to wield great wealth and influence with no shred of greatness to justify it) is the entire story of this film. It’s seldom we’ve ever witnessed such a total erasure of self in a role, and it deserves to win him everything, everywhere.”
The Hollywood Reporter‘s Todd McCarthy adds, “From the beginning, you can’t take your eyes off Carell; as if by some secret alchemy, the actor makes you believe that his character is an entirely uncharismatic man while delivering a completely charismatic performance.”
Carell plays an oddly-sheltered multimillionaire who invites wrestler Mark Shulz (Channing Tatum), the overlooked younger brother to Mark Ruffalo’s Olympian Dave Shulz, to live and train as part of the U.S. wrestling team prepping for the 1988 Olympics at his remote compound near Valley Forge. The initial paternalistic relationship turns sinister.
Miller who created compelling portraits out of his previous subjects in his last two films Moneyball and Capote seems to have done it again, pulling Oscar-caliber performances out of all his actors.
Tatum is being praised for turning “his lunkishness to brilliantly doleful purpose and invests his role with an interiority of loneliness and self-loathing that by the end we could even see coming across even in his style of wrestling,” writes Kiang.
While Variety’s Justin Chang adds, “Tatum delivers what is easily the most emotionally complex performance of his career, hulking through much of the picture exuding rage, surliness and disappointment, qualities that recede only during Mark’s brief honeymoon period with du Pont.”
Ruffalo is also being lauded for his commitment to the smaller, and more tragic, part. Says Kiang, “Ruffalo’s own part is smaller, but he’s as committed as if he were the star, and a single scene in which he is the uncomfortable subject of an interview about du Pont is a masterclass all by itself.”
Hollywood Reporter declares the entire movie “mesmerizing,” a high compliment for a film that was originally supposed to debut last fall but was delayed because Miller wasn’t finished. Seems the extra time has paid off.