Ford v Ferrari brings us back to a time of great American innovation. Before we trusted computer algorithms and data analytics to build the perfect systems, we trusted the feelings of an expert. This film brings us back to understanding how the American drive to win can create the greatest stresses, but can also create the best inventions. Enter Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles. The duo worked to craft a perfect race car for Ford to compete against Ferrari handmade cars that couldn’t lose.
Learn to Drive
This film brings new life to a racing movie. Baby Driver, Drive and a handful of others have kept this subgenre in great popularity, but this brings the story to its origin. The majority of the film is based on fact, though some creative liberties were taken. The story works to understand the challenge Shelby accepts in trying to compete with Ferrari. Though its cinematography of racing is stunning, the remainder of the film doesn’t redesign the biopic genre. A fair amount of the film is car-speak being rewritten into corporate jargon while being restated to verify the audience is tracking the conversation.
The true takeaway is how the film captures the adrenaline of racing. A sport that has changed a lot since this era, car racing has captivated crowds for decades because of its sheer audacity. This film studies the sport following its primitive age, but before major computer advancement. Because of this, the edge of your seat feeling during races comes not only from the thrill of the race but also from the threat the car may just fall apart at any moment. The cinematography puts you in the driver’s seat in a way that feels more engaging than seen in previous racing films as Ford v Ferrari feels like it just has more guts than everybody else.
Put it in Gear
The performances define this film. Matt Damon plays Carroll Shelby with his usual cool. Although this is not his best performance he works great in partnership with Christian Bales as tough and honest Ken Miles. When the two fall into a brawl I realized how much I wanted to see a slap-fight between Batman and Jason Borne – worth the price of admission. The film uses their relationship as the primary fuel for the emotional story. Their brotherly love and affection are the core of Ford v. Ferrari. Shelby’s drive to protect, but also challenge Miles creates various boiling points that keep up the drama while also moving the story forward.
Ford v Ferrari also features a great performance from Outlander star, Caitriona Balfe, who plays Miles’ wife. It takes a strong actor to go head-to-head with Christian Bale and win, so she too brings his rough character to a place of grounding and honesty. The two don’t share a typical 1960’s relationship of the doting wife and overbearing husband, so their partnership seems more relatable to a modern audience.
This film does deserve the Oscar buzz created since its release. Christian Bale’s performance will most likely carry this film to Oscar Sunday, although major films have moved into the race in other categories pushing this one out of the lead. The cinematography also deserves recognition as without it the film would fall very flat. This could propel it to be a contender. The film looks like an Oscar movie, so we’ll see it this film has what it needs to win big.
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