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‘Ferrari’ – Review

‘Ferrari’ – Review


When it comes to modern-day maestros of the cinematic craft, Michael Mann is one of the reigning voices of the art form. A celebrated auteur voice of modern-day cinema who has helmed classics such as Heat, Collateral, and The Insider, Mann’s gusty, masculine film voice and meticulous attention to detail always ensures solid viewing. Now, with Ferrari, he turns his attention to the testosterone-laced drive to win and produces one of the most intense and beautiful cinematic experiences of the new year.

It is the summer of 1957. Behind the spectacle of Formula 1, ex-racer Enzo Ferrari (Adam Driver) is in crisis. Bankruptcy threatens the factory he and his wife, Laura (Penélope Cruz) built from nothing ten years earlier. Their volatile marriage has been battered by the loss of their son, Dino a year earlier. Ferrari struggles to acknowledge his son Piero with Lina Lardi (Shailene Woodley). Meanwhile, his drivers’ passion to win pushes them to the edge as they launch into the treacherous 1,000-mile race across Italy, the Mille Miglia.

Passion has long been a driving force in delivering Mann’s output, and he applies a direct measure of focus to realizing Ferrari, a project dedicated to the life and ambitions of Enzo Ferrari, which has been gestating for more than twenty years. Mann’s cumulative experience as a filmmaker is invested in this grand, operatic picture of the life and times of the great and controversial Ferrari, and the result is a dissection of man’s will to win at all costs. Mann’s Ferrari is a film set against the grand canvas of the 1957 Mille Miglia and Ferrari’s last chance to ensure greatness for his name. Ferrari’s narrative unfolds amidst a deeply personal dramatic battle of the failed relationship between Ferrari and his wife, Laura (Penélope Cruz).

Cast in the lead role of the great Enzo Ferrari is Adam Driver, an actor who has quickly become one of the most sought-after talents working in the business today. And his on-screen intensity makes for a perfect match for Mann’s directorial wizardry in Ferrari. We find Driver’s Ferrari with his back against the wall and ready to make one final big bet to save his racing team and legacy, all while battling the demons of a failing marriage and a tragic loss. Within Driver’s Ferrari, you get the presence of a man who is brutal and to the point, a man who is always on the lookout to push the envelope further and faster and who will not settle for second place. But you also sense the immense guilt and anger inside him that only loss can bring to the surface, and all of it makes for a dominant presence on screen.

Playing opposite Driver is Penélope Cruz as Laura Ferrari, the now estranged wife to the celebrated racing emperor, and Cruz delivers a powerhouse performance that centres the entire production. Bitter, bereft and burnt out, Laura is stuck with the tragic loss of her son and her husband’s love, and their’s is an aggrieved and fraught relationship. She’s a woman of immense power and control but who, through tragic circumstances, is barely holding it together. Backed into a corner by her husband’s latest gamble, Laura is on the hook for Enzo’s last-ditch effort to save their fledgling company, and all of it makes for the most operatic of interpersonal dramas. Cruz completely disappears inside the character of Laura Ferrari and shares a dynamic chemistry of equal measures of love and hate with Driver’s Enzo, and it makes for a compelling watch.

The experience of Ferrari on the big screen thunders to life with the roar of a V12 engine. With his meticulous attention to detail, Mann places his audience right in the path of the exhilaration and danger of the Golden Age of motor racing, and it will leave your heart palpitating with adrenaline. Special applause must be directed towards Academy Award-winning cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt, who brings his trained eye to capture the thumping pulse of Ferrari, and he puts audiences right into the heart of the action, along with giving the film a unique Italian Neo-realism look of the classic Fellini vintage. Praise must also be heaped on sound mixer Angelo Bonanni, who brings to life vintage models such as the Ferrari 355 Ss, the 315 Ss, and the 801 F1s, all of which make an impact on screen. But the film’s thunderous third act and the violence, exhilaration and destruction of the Mille Miglia will throw you back in your seat with a euphoric rush.

To gaze upon Ferrari is to witness a piece of art in motion. Mann has spent much of the past decade basing himself in the historic city of Modena, and his love for the Italian way of life shines through in the finished picture. His Ferrari is not a standardized piece of Hollywood mass production but is instead a beautiful and lavish piece of art-house cinema, complete with a beating and furious pulse. Ferrari has all the trappings of a Renaissance artwork delivered by Mann at full speed, and it is an experience that will leave the audience in awe.

Michael Mann’s Ferrari is the culmination of a twenty-year obsession to present man’s obsession with speed and the pursuit of glory in pure artistic projection. Audiences will be drawn into its opulent narrative and leave feeling they’ve witnessed a grand work of art.

Image: Roadshow Films