If you were catching up on The Office last night and the thought, "I wonder what Steve Carrell is doing now that he's off the show?" you now have the answer. And it's quite shocking.
Carrell is teaming up with Moneyball director Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher, the story of millionaire Jon du Pont, who was theorized to suffer from paranoid schizophrenia and went on, at the age of 59, to murder Olympic wrestler Dave Shultz. The role is quite a stretch for Carrell, whose comedic background isn't an obvious fit for the tortured du Pont, but definitely an interesting choice.
Foxcatcher was written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman, the latter nominated for an Oscar for his last collaboration with Miller, Capote. How much of du Pont's life the film chronicles is unknown, but as a member of the Philadelphia elite and enthusiast of many a hobby, the man's life is a peppered with material screaming to be woven into the biopic's scope.
Foxcatcher (a reference to du Pont's farm) is set to shoot this March, meaning we could see Carrell's grand performance sometime in 2012.
Let's hear it for the old guy who in this movie comes off sexier than his buff young accomplice (Dermot Mulroney). OK the old guy happens to be the gracefully aging icon Paul Newman -- as a feisty heistmeister who dodges a long prison sentence and then teams up with his equally conniving rest-home nurse (Linda Fiorentino) on a bank job gone wrong. "Where the Money Is" is breezy suspenseful and as much a love story as anything else -- if you call mentoring a new life in crime a kind of love. The mission-improbable caper is no more or less entertaining than a "Rockford Files" rerun but the film's swerving joyride takes its real thrills from the great escape that Fiorentino's Bonnie Parker makes from a dead-end life in the married lane.
Newman still hasn't lost it and as Henry Manning he doesn't miss any nuances in the edgy balance between streetwise wariness and amiable rapport with his sultry new colleague. The steam-powered Fiorentino has forged her career by making danger look casual and this is her most alluring work since "The Last Seduction" added another zero to her salary. Her chemistry with Newman a flirty twist on the idea of honor among thieves is really what makes this movie worth seeing. Mulroney is serviceable as the dim but lovable hubby a supporting role that's more foil than fully etched character.
We can all thank director Marek Kanievska for deciding not to have the May-December duo end up in the sack and leaving them simply professional cohorts. The director's admirable sense of comic timing works all the better by not letting the laughs get in the way of his leads' exploration of their characters -- although there's no denying the limits of this frothy genre. Perhaps Kanievska's greatest feat here is allowing Newman to retain his dignity in close-up.