An Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler and his brother fall in with a businessman who wants to coach the US team.
The truth is often stranger than fiction, and that's certainly borne out by Foxcatcher, which is based on true events which took place in the late 80s and early 90s.
The film is mainly the story of Mark Schultz, an American wrestler who won gold at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, the same year as his brother Dave. Channing Tatum takes on the part of Mark a couple of years after this victory, living in his brother's shadow and trying to get in shape for the 1988 games.
Then he met John du Pont and his world was changed forever.
Despite the oddly energetic trailer, Foxcatcher is a real character piece – hardly surprising when you consider director Bennet Miller's previous work on Moneyball and Capte. Working almost entirely from Mark's point of view, we're let into a maze of confusing allegiences and a creeping realisation that few of the charactrse are particularly stable.
Tatum does his best as Schultz and while he's a charasmatic performer the character sometimes feels a bit beyond his reach. He's totally committed to the physiscal side though, taking part in a number of westling bouts which are raw, intense and often as emotional as the many talky bits.
It's Mark Ruffalo who makes the biggest impression as Mark's brother Dave. The actor does a huge amount of physical work for the performance, developing a gait and stance that makes him seem always ready for the ring, but with a softness of character which makes him easy to look up to and like.
Then there's Steve Carell who is a whole lot more complicated. John du Pont is supposed to be a seductive force, a powerful man who takes the fragile fighter in under his wing. But Carell's characterisation is just a step away from a full on Bond villain.
Pale, stooped and slathered in mountains of makeup, he looks nothing like the real du Pont and ends up removing most of the subletly of the film. There's no doubt Carell has some strong intentions for the part but it just ends up as a distraction.
Foxcatcher is best seen as a glimpse at an incredible true story and what happens when a wealthy man sets his mind to a seemingly impossible goal. It's also about obsession, power and complicated relationships but the performances didn't quite grab me well enough to consider this a serious contendor for awards glory.