There has been so much buzz about Foxcatcher and Steve Carrell’s performance. Some critics were whispering Supporting Actor Oscar buzz. And since this was a role and a genre that Steve Carrell had never played, I was very intrigued. My fiancé posed a very interesting question today as we were driving to the theatre to see this much-anticipated film. She asked, “Is Steve Carrell the next Robin Williams?” I was floored by this and naturally I just said, I’d have to wait and see until after the movie before I could give my answer. Steve Carrell solidified his comedic genius and super stardom being the understudy of Stephen Colbert and playing everyone’s favorite Dunder Mifflin Regional Manager, Michael Scott, on America’s incarnation of The Office. So back to the compelling question: “Is Steve Carrell the next Robin Williams?” when it comes to cinematic range and performance?
In my opinion, so far, the answer is “no.” But it’s not due to Carrell’s lack of acting chops.
Foxcatcher is the true story of John du Pont, a multimillionaire who enjoys life’s simplicities. To him, those simplicities are munitions, bird watching, and freestyle wrestling. Munitions because that’s how his family made its fortune, birds because he majored in zoology at The University of Miami. (How about that? A Miami reference.) And freestyle wrestling because of what it represented to him as a gladiator sport meant to prove how great the country is. In doing so, he recruits gold-medal winning brothers Mark and David Schultz so that he can manage and personally finance their training in preparation for the upcoming 1988 Olympics in Seoul.
Let’s start with the good points: this movie is beautifully shot and Mark Ruffalo’s performance was stellar. One of my main issues with Steve Carrell’s performance wasn’t his acting and it wasn’t his prosthetic nose and teeth that made him look like a vulture. It was due to the fact that he really didn’t have that much screen time. He shows up for the first time about 25 minutes in of this 134 minute film and every time they show him, his scenes are 2-3 minutes long. The bulk of the direction taken was exploring the up and down relationship between the brothers, which was compelling on its own. Again, only because of Mark Ruffalo.
So to expand on the opening question again, because I feel it deserves expansion: I was left very impressed with Steve Carrell’s performance but at the same time felt cheated because of the lack of screen time and lack of overall development his character went through. I believe he could one day win an Oscar for a performance none of us will see coming; it just won’t be from this role.
I went in with very high expectations and sadly they weren’t met. Good movie, but nowhere near great.