Every year there is a film that has a little bit of everything to please anyone out there. A film that has heart, passion for a craft, strong performers, dreams that become reality – a film worth watching on the big screen, that keeps you entertained for 150 minutes. Well, Ford v Ferrari is that film.
American car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford and challenge Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s oldest active sports car race in endurance racing, in 1966.
Shelby and Miles aren’t doing this for fame or the prize at the end of the finish line, they do it because they love racing, building something from scratch and making it even better than ever thought possible. That’s where the heart of this film lies. Just like those guys, you can tell director James Mangold and his team made this film with a passion for filmmaking. From production design, to camera movements in- and outside the race cars, to the attention to detail when it comes to costume design and historic accuracy. A true feat for Hollywood and for cinema goers worldwide.
20th Century Fox/Disney does seem to want to attract an audience that’s interested in cars and racing, but this film is more than just that. It’s about business and family, the message this film tells without any hesitance is universal and will keep everyone intrigued for its entire two and a half hour runtime. There’s never a dull moment in this what might seem boring on paper event-film. Even the longest dialogues are riddled with Bale’s over-the-top face acting and writers Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth and Jason Keller made sure to have serious conversations supercharged with dry humour. Bale proves how much of an acting-chameleon he is – I’ve never seen him do anything like this before. Even Damon, who I’m personally not the biggest fan of, since I find him very one-note, deserves my recognition as being simply incredible as Bale’s on screen “co-driver”.
The supporting cast might not be filled with household Hollywood names, but this cast is without a doubt one of the best ensembles you’ll see all year. Noah Jupe (A Quiet Place) and Caitriona Balfe (Outlander) as Miles’ son and wife will have many viewers look up their names on IMDb. Jupe has a joyful screen presence that makes you want to protect him at all costs, while Balfe stands her ground with her mesmerising charisma. Her chemistry with Bale feels so naturally intimate, as if they’re a married couple in real life – I found myself smiling every time they interacted with each other – magical! Jon Bernthal, Tracy Letts and Remo Girone each give compelling performances in every scene they bump and run.
Although I said this wasn’t just a movie about racing, it does have the most spectacular race sequences I’ve seen in years, thanks to Phedon Papamichael‘s off the charts cinematography, flawless VFX and the amazing sound design team. Following the cars on ground level in hair clip turns is sweat inducing and will have you gasping for clean air when stuff completely goes wrong. There’s never a moment you won’t believe it’s not Bale himself who sits behind the wheel.
Ford v Ferrari is the kind of movie everyone will enjoy. It has big Hollywood stars telling a timeless story about friendship and making dreams come true. In a year, full of sequels and remakes, what more do you want? This is one of the most entertaining films you’ll see this year.
Review – ‘Ford v Ferrari’
Reviewed at Event Cinemas George Street, Sydney, Nov. 8, 2019. Australian Classification: M. Running time: 152 min.
PRODUCTION: A 20th Century Fox release through Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures of a Chernin Entertainment production. Producers: Peter Chernin (p.g.a.), James Mangold (p.g.a.), Jenno Topping. Executive producers: Dani Bernfeld, Kevin Halloran, Michael Mann, Adam Somner. Associate producer: Anthony Dixon. Co-producer: Aaron Downing.
CREW: Director: James Mangold. Screenplay: Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, Jason Keller. Camera (color, widescreen): Phedon Papamichael. Editors: Andrew Buckland, Michael McCusker, Dirk Westervelt. Music: Marco Beltrami, Buck Sanders.
WITH: Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Caitriona Balfe, Jon Bernthal, Josh Lucas, JJ Feild, Noah Jupe, Tracy Letts, Ian Harding, Remo Girone.