Premiering at this year’s Venice Film Festival, Ferrari is the latest film from Michael Mann. Starring Adam Driver, Penelope Cruz and Shailene Woodley, the screenplay is adapted from Brock Yates’ book ‘Enzo Ferrari: The Man and the Machine‘.
Following a time of financial and personal insecurity in the car manufacturer’s life, the film opens to an uneven first half, unsure if it wants to be a racing story or a personal drama. When looking at the complexities of his romantic life, the film feels like it doesn’t have the time to say all it wants to whilst balancing the racing elements. Thankfully, Mann hits steady ground in the second half – committing to the race elements of the film as we follow 5 Ferrari drivers compete in the 1957 Mille Miglia. Here, Mann is able to do what he does best, direct fast-paced and gripping action, leading to a truly shocking final act (at least for anyone unaware of the events history).
The action elements of Ferrari are not without issues – there are some awkward uses of CGI throughout the film for various crash stunts that threaten to take away the gravitas of the situation, but these are used sparingly.
Driver continues his love of Italian voice work, he remains as always a strong performer, though it may take some a moment to adjust to his aged-up appearance. Cruz however steals the show, demanding attention in every scene she appears in as Ferrari’s long-suffering and grieving wife. She seethes with barely controlled rage throughout the film, yet manages to convey love and sorrow within this, reminding us why she continues to be one of our best-working actresses. Woodley balances out the film as Ferrari’s lover, who brings a calm and nurturing element to his life, though she feels awkwardly miscast despite a solid performance, her distinctive voice struggling with the Italian accent and her youthful looks seeming at odds with Driver’s older appearance.
That said, the film uses its large ensemble cast well, going out of its way to make all the characters, especially the racers who become crucial in the film’s third act, feel fully fleshed out, even to the detriment of the runtime in parts.
Ferrari is a patchy but in parts gripping drama that is worth the time, especially for the far superior second half. A must for fans of racing dramas.
Where to Watch
Ex film teacher and frequent couch potato. I try and see at least one new release a week, but I’ve somehow got to 30 without having seen The Godfather?