Ferrari – movie review

The power, the glory and the horrors associated with one of the world’s most prestigious marques is on show in Ferrari. The primary focus is on its controlling founder, Enzo Ferrari. Born in Modena, Italy in 1898, Enzo would go on to become a racing car driver, before retiring at the age of 33. He and his wife Laura started the Ferrari motor racing team in 1947. Ferrari, the film, picks up his story 10 years later.

Enzo (Adam Driver) and Laura (Penelope Cruz) have a volatile relationship. He’s known as a womaniser. She controls the books with an eagle eye and Ferrari is leaking money. On the personal front, the pair are barely on speaking terms. They continue to grieve the death of their son, “Dino”, who had died of muscular dystrophy the year before. Enzo has a longstanding secret mistress, Lina Lardi (Shailene Woodley). He met during the war and had a son, Piero, in 1945 with her. Piero is a bright child, whom his mother would like to carry the Ferrari name, but the situation surrounding Enzo’s wife makes that far from a straightforward proposition.

On the racing front, Ferrari’s only way out of its financial quagmire is to win races. Among them is the 1957 Mille Miglia, where the real threat comes from Maserati. And bear in mind, this is an era when deaths in the sport are not uncommon. Enzo himself still mourns the deaths of two comrades 25 years earlier. Ferrari paints Enzo as a driven (pardon the pun) pragmatist, with a “win at all costs” mentality. His life is a constant juggle to try to stay on top of the unravelling threads.

Ferrari is a powerful, at times horrific, portrait of the race to be the fastest … and to stay afloat. Adam Driver impresses with a largely humourless, but dominant portrayal of Enzo, a man on a perpetual tightrope. Driver continues to walk tall throughout. Penelope Cruz is positively ferocious as Laura, a woman not to be taken lightly. Shailene Woodley displays the patience of Job as his mistress, Lina.

Ferrari was written by Troy Kennedy Martin (The Italian Job), based on the book Enzo Ferrari: The Man, The Cars, The Races, The Machine by Brock Yates. Michael Mann, who executive produced Ford v Ferrari in 2019 steps behind the camera, as director, on this one. Let’s face it, Mann is used to bringing heat (he helmed the action, crime, drama of that name in 1995), and there’s an intensity about Ferrari too.

Mann adroitly balances the Ferrari business, with the complexity of Enzo’s personal relationships. As a result, Ferrari, the movie, leaves an indelible imprint.

Alex First


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