Sunday, March 08, 2015


During high school in the early 1980s, that dark period in human history just prior to the modern Information Age, we kids spent a lot of time sitting around and talking.

Seriously, Millennials. It's true.

My friend Jamie and I dated sisters. We spent a lot of time together at their house and pretended to talk to each other, even though our true motivations were focused elsewhere.  Our conversations were superficial, themed mostly on sports and girls. Jamie was a high school wrestler. I wasn't.

We had little in common other than really liking sisters.

Most days, during lulls in our conversation, Jamie would say: "Let me put you in a banana split." I'd refuse the offer, for several reasons. One of the most important reasons is because the amateur wrestling move known as the "banana split" looks like this:

Despite my "no, thanks," Jamie would laugh, jump on top of me, and contort my body into shapes not intended by intelligent design. After only a few seconds I'd tap out. Jamie and his girlfriend would laugh, and I'd pretend not to me embarrassed.

Wrestlers don't seem to mind physical intimacy. Many, I think, seek it out.

Foxcatcher, directed by Bennett Miller, is really a movie about physical intimacy. Wrestlers in the movie compete with a physical intimacy that's comparable to ballroom dance -- early scenes of the Schultz brothers practicing basic moves on each other demonstrate the grace and elegance of highly trained athletes. John du Pont (the role that will transform Steve Carell's career) longs for physical intimacy with his mother and the wrestlers he recruits, but doesn't understand how to achieve either. And it was an act of physical intimacy -- the moment when du Pont slapped the face of wrestler Mark Schultz -- that dramatically and forever altered the lives of all three main characters.

I enjoyed Foxcatcher for the brilliant acting of the main cast. The tragic real-life story, however, made me feel so uncomfortable and ill-at-ease I wanted to tap out.


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