Entertainment » Movies

Ford v Ferrari

by Frank J. Avella
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Feb 18, 2020
Ford v Ferrari

The inclusion of "Ford v Ferrari" as a Best Picture Oscar nominee (it won two Oscars) came as a surprise to some. Really? Another angsty older white male-centric film marketed towards white men? Was the academy really nominating a race car movie in 2019? Forget the fact that it happens to be great filmmaking and features an intense and richly developed script, as well as two dazzling lead performances. Come on! Alas, the nomination, in my opinion, was quite deserved.

Watching the film again via a stunning Blu-ray transfer, I was struck by just how un-Hollywood and how subversive this David vs. Goliath story is. True racers and car lovers try to work within the system and realize the system will always screw you over and always win. We've seen this so many times before. But the brilliance of this film is that it attempts to reach much further and show how the triumph is in the doing — the living your passion.

The film chronicles the true tale of Ford's vengeful road to topple the unstoppably-winning Ferrari in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race of 1966 and the actual men who did all the work. Now if racing isn't your thing, worry not, I couldn't care less about auto racing and, yet, I was mesmerized from beginning to end — even seeing it a second time in my home.

"Ford v Ferrari" is mostly a spectacular showcase for Christian Bale, who fully embodies driver extraordinaire Ken Miles, and Matt Damon playing Carroll Shelby, the car designer and man who convinced Ford that they could go up against Ferrari and actually win. The outcome is not anywhere near as exciting as the journey thanks to the dense screenplay Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, and Jason Keller—although the ending will not be what those unfamiliar with racing history will expect. And the focus is on friendship.

Director James Mangold ("Logan," "Walk the Line") coasts past each step of the arduous odyssey as the Ford suits (John Bernthal, Josh Lucas) do battle with Shelby who, in turn, tries to keep the somewhat erratic Miles in line and keep the irascible Ford (a scene-stealing Tracy Letts) on board. The filmmakers are smart to also focus on Miles' relationship with his wife Mollie (an excellent Caitriona Balfe) and son Peter (Noah June, rising fast).

One can't help but pick up on the parallels between the racing world and the filmmaking universe and the constant battles of art vs. commerce, where the studios too often win, leaving the creatives in a big pile of mangled wreckage.

The main Special Feature is a one-hour doc (consisting of 8 segments), "Bringing the Rivalry to Life," that goes pretty in-depth into the filmmaking process and includes chats with Mangold and all of the terrific actors (overly praising one another, of course). Every once in a while we also witness certain actors wax about their character's obsession with achievement gaining some insight into their inner workings. The doc also boasts the real Peter Miles who provided Bale with info on his dad. In addition, we get a good look at how some of the lunatic racing sequences were filmed.

"Ford v Ferrari" is about how striving for excellence can give a person purpose but how ridiculous notions of achieving perfection can, too, destroy a person. The film is also a true (and sad) statement about how corporations run the world and that is unlikely to change anytime soon. But true dreamers will always refuse to capitulate.

"Ford v Ferrari"
Blu-ray & Digital

Frank J. Avella is a film and theatre journalist and is thrilled to be writing for EDGE. He is also a proud Dramatists Guild member and a recipient of a 2018 Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship. He was awarded a 2015 Fellowship Award from the NJ State Council on the Arts, the 2016 Helene Wurlitzer Residency Grant and the Chesley/Bumbalo Foundation Playwright Award for his play Consent, which was also a 2012 semifinalist for the O'Neill. His play, Vatican Falls, took part in the 2017 Planet Connections Festivity and Frank was nominated for Outstanding Playwriting. Lured was a semifinalist for the 2018 O'Neill and received a 2018 Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation Grant. Lured will premiere in 2018 in NYC and 2019 in Rome, Italy. LuredThePlay.com

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