Director: Michael Mann
Starring: Adam Driver, Penelope Cruz, Shailene Woodley
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 2 hr 10 mins
What It Is: A biopic of automotive mogul Enzo Ferrari (Driver), whose family redefined the idea of the high-powered Italian sports car and practically spawned the concept of Formula One racing.
What We Think: Ferrari tears a hole in your heart and your eardrums. A closer look at the man, Enzo – his failures, his victories, his machines. Adam Driver commands the screen with a stern, calculating gaze as he watches his creations whip by at sickening speeds, the slightest jump or hiccup holding life itself on the line. As much as it is a “terrible joy” (Ferrari solemnly states in one scene), there are equally destructive consequences in the balance both on the track and behind the closed doors of family homes as the ones who walk those halls, such as Shailene Woodley bridling with an astute innocence, watch on. Something that one simply cannot take their eyes off of is Penelope Cruz, giving a fantastic performance as Ferrari’s wife Laura. She carries an unbearable history in her eyes and is a force to be reckoned with, in a film with roaring motors no less.
And roar they do – like steel lions. Mann directs the racing sequences in Ferrari with intense vigor, where our eyes are inches away from the rushing river of asphalt running under their bodies, or watching from the side of the road as they break past us in a blink of an eye, mere inches from death. It’s an intensity than Mann achieves by translating his cinematic language into grueling, non-stop scenes of terrifying speeds, in contrast of the quieter more personal scenes between human beings.
If there is one gripe I would have with the film – it’s the English dialogue with Italian accents. The performances are amazing, no doubt about it, but in a perfect world, wouldn’t it be a triumph to see such high caliber actors performing their roles in their character’s native tongue? At times it did pull me out of the dramatic intensity the film builds so well, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say the film is unbearable with them. As a side note, the pacing here is never too slow, but be certain that you know Ferrari doesn’t just focus on Formula One races, as the outcomes of said races are felt through intervals of more intimate moments between characters. Or through the dark shades of Enzo Ferrari. Either way, all roads lead to this film’s heart-stopping third act, where the amalgamation of both sides of the story fully forms.
Our Grade: A; Pulsating with brilliantly filmed racing sequences and magnetic performances of boisterous/stoic nature, Ferrari is a suitable turn from Michael Mann into the crossroads of both action and biographical elements. In theaters December 25th.