This is the campiest thing I’ve seen in years, in the Sontag sense.
Going in I didn’t know anything about the “true story” it’s based on, and I didn’t want to. So I laughed a lot, although I also gasped at the murder (and then laughed) but almost more fun has been reading the critics trying to explain what’s happening in the film. (I can’t wait to read Adam Cook’s words of wisdom.) Remote and clinical? Maybe, but that’s just a stylistic tactic to keep us questioning what we’re seeing and feeling, and risk being embarrassed about all of it. Most folks who should know better are keeping their lips glued shut so no one else in the theater will know what they’re really thinking. What was that Bertolucci said in a Jumpcut review about the critics of his 1900? It’s like they’re getting fucked up the ass and refusing to cum…?
According to one critic, there are sexual under-currents. To my mind, there’s nothing under about the sexual currents at all. There is one gigantic elision in the middle of the film, however, the absence of which structures all the anger and resentment that comes after. If you don’t at least try to guess at what happened between the Coach and his favorite beefcake wrestler to make them so pissed at each other, then I can’t imagine the second half of the film makes much sense to you.
I don’t think it’s director Bennett Miller being coy, either. He’s doing everything he can to avoid pulling the movie over into Precious territory, which it comes close to in spots, and instead pulling it back toward Ulrich Sidl. But Miller’s not much interested in melodrama, a style that would have made the movie much gayer than it already is, but he sure is interested in men that turn their lives into melodrama. cf Capote.
Someone on Letterboxd said “[Foxcatcher] is so thematically blunt it’s almost laughable.” That’s pretty close to how I feel, too, though I’d leave out the adverb.
Is it a masterpiece? I don’t know. It’s more of a fascinating failure for me. But I’m going to give it another watch.