Heartfelt storytelling, and a truly arresting story to tell.
What We Disliked
The absence of sibling Mark Schultz, which is felt even in the film’s best moments.
June 22, 2016 by admin
Team Foxcatcher Movie 2016 Review
John Du Pont’s mental instability is a defining point of interest when discussing his 1996 murder bid. As heir to the hallowed Du Pont family, his marked obsession with the wrestlers he pretended to mentor ended tragically; with the death of Olympic Gold Medalist Dave Schultz. For those previously unfamiliar with the case, Bennett Miller’s film Foxcatcher (2015) serves as the perfect entry point, punctuated by Academy Award nominees Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo playing Du Pont and Schultz respectively. As for Dave, the younger Schultz sibling, (played by Channing Tatum in the film) he has remained a man torn between two ghosts: the looming deceit of Du Pont, and the wasted vigor of Dave. Sadly, such perspective is notably missing in this year’s Netflix documentary Team Foxcatcher.
Dave Schultz’s absence in the project is never directly addressed, nor is his lack of presence in the home videos shot by sister-in-law Nancy. Given his hands-on approach to the Miller film only a year prior, such an omission feels curiously conspicuous on his part. That being said, Team Foxcatcher still has plenty to offer in terms of sincerity and engaging content. Dave’s widow Nancy serves as the hub of the project, reflecting on her goofball husband and the inspirational elements that led twenty other wrestlers to follow him to the Du Pont estate. Archival footage is lovingly organized, as is a character portrait that reads far more romanticized than one would assume – especially given the saccharine tone of the fictional version.
But playing it soft isn’t all that Team Foxcatcher concerns itself with. Director Jon Greenhalgh steadily builds to the Du Pont tragedy with a chilling cold war of sorts, leading to animosity and eventual concern within the camp itself. Du Pont obviously envied Schultz’s abilities and leadership, and the doc finds him corralling other wrestlers against the Olympic athlete in response. These wrestlers, many of which appear to offer their accounts, further the idea of Du Pont as a raving lunatic – someone who would watch hours of static footage of the forest and rant about his paranoid conspiracies. The testimony is chilling to absorb, as is a particular clip of the soon-to-be-murderer informing his squad to “Kill! Kill! Kill!”
As such, Team Foxcatcher is nothing if not a thoroughly engaging tragedy yarn. It deftly walks the line between adoration and repulsion, accurately capturing the Schultz/Du Pont relationship while focusing on the moral ambivalence of those that were there to witness it. In fact, the chilling affirmation that many of the wrestlers stayed on after Schultz’s murder go a long way in exposing the price tag on certain people’s souls. Mark may not be in this project, but his conflicted spirit is something Greenhalgh expertly captures nonetheless.
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