Biopics can be a hard sell at times. Whether you’re diving into the troubled life of an addict or exploring someone’s sexuality, there are many touchy subjects these days. With that said, I feel there are also those that will stand the test of time, in terms of being able to please a wide audience. Ford v Ferrari is one of the latest true stories out of Hollywood that will be hitting the big screen soon, and here’s why I believe it absolutely deserves attention.
Following multiple characters throughout, Ford v Ferrari focussed on the fact that Henry Ford II was given an idea to create the fastest race car in the world. His mission is to take down the likes of the company Ferrari, who have held the title for years. Carol Shelby (Matt Damon) is approached by a member of the Ford team and is recruited, only to be the one finding himself recruiting the driver in Ken Miles (Christian Bale). That’s the core premise and there’s a lot to dive into from there.
When you think of great sports movies, Rocky, Remember the titans and Rush comes to your mind. This movie won’t be know as the best sports movie of all time but would surely be among the top 20. There is nothing much to say about the two leading stars in the movie but big shout out to the supporting cast including Jon Bernthal who was great.
A strong screenplay is the foundation of a great story involving the characters portrayed by Matt Damon playing American Car Designer Carroll Shelby, driver Christian Bale, and Tracy Letts as Henry Ford II, all involved in challenging the famous Italian car maker Ferrari at the famous race at Le Mans in 1966. From the very first frame, James Mangold sets the tone with exciting, bold and energetic images that are visually arresting, alongside a great score that never overwhelms or feels generic.
The editing is outstanding, as the pace is so fast moving, pulsating with nail biting excitement, especially in the racing sequences. Cinematographer Phedon Papamichael, along with Production Designer Francois Audouy, and Costume Designer Daniel Orlandi, have created a rich canvas, always authentic in feel, full of subtleties resulting in a formidable palette that comes together beautifully. Flawless performances are a high point under the guidance of James Mangold’s direction. Matt Damon has rarely had the opportunity to show quite a range from confidant showman to a vulnerability we rarely see.
The elongated driving sequences were exhausting and to long for me but I could see others around me lapping this up. The entire ensemble were brilliant and really created the atmosphere of the racetrack and the maverick sportsmen of the 60’s.
With regard to awards my mind tells me that there are merely supporting actor nominations here because neither of the leads here displayed any comprehensive array of emotions and that discounts them. Ditto for best movie.
The legendary 24-hour road race itself delivers all the thrills and spills necessary for an edge-of-the-seat finale, with Mills making a mockery of the Ferrari team as promised, but anyone geared up for a feel-good finish will be sorely disappointed, reality rarely being the fairytale we would like it to be. Remaining true to the facts, the film’s final lap delivers a double-whammy of a downer that drives home the fact that, sometimes, life just sucks.