"Foxcatcher" wrestles with demons at Cannes film festival

Mon May 19, 2014 9:30am EDT
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By Alexandria Sage

CANNES France (Reuters) - Inner demons are at the emotional core of "Foxcatcher", Bennett Miller's compelling film about the 1996 murder of a wrestling champion by the heir to the prominent U.S. Du Pont family, premiering at the Cannes film festival on Monday.

It is the first time at Cannes for U.S. director Miller, whose 2005 film "Capote" earned him a nomination as Best Director at the Academy Awards and a Best Actor win for its star, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The top-notch cast includes Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo as Olympic champion brothers Mark and Dave Schultz, and a cast-against-type and completely unrecognizable Steve Carell as John du Pont, a role Miller said was "far out of his (Carell's) comfort zone".

"My athletes consider me as a brother, a father and a leader," Du Pont boasts during the film after he establishes a training camp for amateur wrestlers on the grounds of his family's sprawling mansion.

But the reality is darker and far less flattering.

An odd character shut inside his world of privilege and surrounded by his mother's (Vanessa Redgrave) equestrian trophies, Du Pont suffers from an inferiority complex.

Yet delusions of grandeur, and a deep-seated assumption that money can buy him anything, see him overstepping his role as benefactor as he clearly yearns to be part of the team - wearing a warm-up suit with his athletes and calling himself their coach and mentor.

Despite the sweat and muscle that are the backdrop, it is a quiet and intensely psychological film that explores the ultimately fatal relationship between du Pont and the two brothers.   Continued...

(L-R) Cast members Mark Ruffalo, Steve Carell and Channing Tatum pose during a photocall for the film "Foxcatcher" in competition at the 67th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes May 19, 2014.  REUTERS/Benoit Tessier