Friday, 17 October 2014

LFF REVIEW - FOXCATCHER (BENNETT MILLER)


Bennett Miller redefines the classic American male in terms such a male might understand. Or, in terms the man who has been conditioned to consider himself thus might understand. The coarse chanting that closes Foxcatcher reverberates through one's mind into the credits, the depth of its penetration frighteningly far into the psyche of a confused, broken, susceptible mind. Channing Tatum's face is a golden canvas for abuse, open, blank, the perfect receptacle for a ruthless hunter's warped insecurities. What John du Pont cannot comprehend - what none of these misguided men can - is that they are not the hunters: these vulnerable individuals are the prey of society, of a culture that plies them with praise in expectation, and rejects them in humiliation when they inevitably come up short. A sexless, mostly woman-less sealed environment, the wrestling circles of Foxcatcher provide a safe space for men who have failed to fit into that society, but such wounded souls, so unwilling to admit to their own deficiencies in the hope that they will, some day, meet what has been expected of them, are incapable of maintaining harmony here. Miller operates on the terms of his characters throughout, expressing emotional content through physical interpretation, touch and sight communicating what speech and thought can't. And injury to the body thereby means injury to the mind, degrading the male in his very essence; even the wealthy, irresponsible males who appear dominant to the classically superior, 'stronger' man at first are delivered a fitting pummelling - again, on their terms, through more direct psychological humiliation. du Pont must escape his own legacy, destined to reach its pathetic end at his hands, and the expectation that carries, and also his own physicality, and the shame it unavoidably brings upon him. Three men, three supposedly formidable forces, collide in this horrible comedy / hilarious horror film, their encounters reimagining the traditional sports drama in that most historically 'shameful' of concepts: latent homoeroticism. Foxcatcher mocks most specifically the culture that expects heteronormative simplicity, and rejects those unable to conform. The naive jock, the closeted creep and the sensitive bear dry hump themselves into obscurity, punishment and death, respectively. A fitting end for any would-be 'classic American male'.