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Ford V Ferrari Takes the Auto Racing Genre’s Checkered Flag

Posted by January 20th, 2020 1 Comment »

Ford V Ferrari (2020)
Directed by James Mangold
Starring Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal and Caitriona Balfe
By Tim Basaraba

A film about cars? Yuck! Do we really need more machismo brought to us via the grease and grime of gearheads?

This was my thought going in to Ford V Ferrari, but, knowing James Mangold was directing, I had to put my disdain for the American-motorized-fetish aside and watch with an open mind.

The leads are great. Damon plays racing-maverick-turned-automotive designer Carroll Shelby. The aging actor plays the role perfectly, with facial expressions and verbal bravado that belie a man who’s hiding feelings of worthlessness. He can’t, however, hide them from Christian Bale’s Ken Miles. The character knows the obsession and pain that come with not quite being the best.

Couple these performances with an “American ingenuity vs the austere Italians” and you have a drama worthy of the director who brought us Logan (2017) and the masterful biopic Walk the Line (2005).

Unlike other recent films involving vehicles, such as Baby Driver, Ford V Ferrari relies on less flash and more grounded realism; it offers us an actual glimpse into what must be an exhausting event: the twenty four hour Le Mans race held yearly in France.

The only weak point in the film is its execution of the “behind every great man is a great woman” trope. Caitriona Balfe’s portrayal of Mollie Miles seems out of place, and she delivers lines that are integral to the story in a way that is wooden and unbelievable.

“What producer owed you a favor to get you this role?”

This film does, however, prove that subject matter is much like genre: A good film is a good film no matter what story it tells or even how it tells it…even if it’s a car movie.

If Walk The Line and Logan are an A then Ford V Ferrari crosses the finish line with a robust B+

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