By Gabriel Rodrigues
As Cinefest Sudbury wrapped up its 26th edition on Sept. 21, the International Film Festival concluded with one last presentation called the Foxcatcher, and for Laurentian’s varsity wrestling coach, the story really “hits home” within his life on the mat.
“This was a huge loss for the wrestling community,” said Andy Lalonde. “This sport has always been known to be tough and this movie exemplifies that. It is a constant grind and takes a special individual to compete physically and mentally.”
The Foxcatcher, directed by Bennett Miller, starring some familiar faces within cinema like Channing Tatum, Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo, is based on a true story depicting the life of 1984 Olympic gold medalists in wrestling, brothers Mark (Tatum) and Dave (Ruffalo) Schultz.
The story begins with Mark being invited by multimillionaire John du Pont (Carell) to move to his estate in Pennsylvania to help form a wrestling team known as Foxcatcher, to train for the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Mark accepts du Pont’s offer to focus on his training and hopes to finally step out of his brother’s shadow. Initially, du Pont is supportive, but things take a turn for the worst, as he begins to lure Mark into an unhealthy lifestyle that threatens his training.
Although Mark eventually qualifies for the 1988 Olympics, with the help of his brother, Dave, coaching by his side, he doesn’t end up placing at the Games.
After that, Dave decides officially to start coaching for du Pont’s team Foxcatcher in 1990. As Mark and Dave begin to train together again, du Pont becomes paranoid and alienated from the brothers, which eventually led to Mark’s departure.
Although Mark left the team, Dave stayed with his family and continued to coach for du Pont. This would eventually lead to du Pont shooting and murdering Dave Schultz on January 26, 1996.
Lalonde, who was competing at the time, said this incident was “shocking” to say the least.
“A month prior to Dave’s death, I met him for the first time at a tournament in Michigan,” Lalonde said. “He was a humble guy and someone I looked up to when I competed.”
Dave, according to Lalonde, was known to be one the most “beloved” wrestlers in the sport.
Although Schultz’s record exemplifies his competitive nature, with many gold medals under his name, which include the World championships, Pan American Games, World Cup and of course, the 1984 Olympic Games, his persona off the mat is what he is known for, said Lalonde.
“He was an ambassador of the sport, especially in North America,” Lalonde said. “He was a classy guy who was simply cool, calm and collected. In the 1980s, the U.S didn’t compete in Russia or Iran in 20 years, but Dave Schultz would go down himself, and they loved him for it. He would be applauded for being the class act that he was.”
The Foxcatcher officially opens to Canadian theatres on Nov. 28, and Lalonde said the film represents wrestling well: he hopes that even with its tragic ending, the film will attract some future athletes to the sport.
“Wrestling has always been known to be tough,” he said. “Having a movie like this helps but I’ll talk to some of the best MMA fighters, and they will tell me, they don’t like to go to wrestling practice because it sucks to put your body through it. It is a sport that people don’t do because it is not easy. ”