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Steve Carell does his best Mr. Burns in Bennett Miller's tense, airless true-crime thriller.

Bennett Miller (USA, Gala Presentations)

Bennett Miller returns to true crime with Foxcatcher, based on the eerie true story of multimillionaire amateur sports patron John Du Pont’s toxic relationship with Olympic wrestlers and brothers Mark and Dave Schultz. Anyone who knows how the story ends will feel a knot in their stomach as the sponsorship drama increasingly plays out like a psycho-thriller, while novices may wonder why even Mark’s early victories have such a funereal tone.

Miller directs the hell out of this tense material, though there’s no dressing up its hoariness: it feels like not a scene goes by without a U.S. flag grimly foretelling the collapse of the American dream along with Du Pont’s sanity. As far as the actors go, Oscar-buzzed Steve Carell is arguably the weakest link as Mr. Burns doppelgänger Du Pont, his performance buried somewhere under the prosthetic nose and moneyed Pennsylvania accent. Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo are much more impressive as gentle Mark and charismatic Dave, the former delivering a nearly silent performance that serves as a pitch-perfect model of beefcake depression.

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