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Ferrari film review

2 months ago

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Writer:

Ben Oliver | Journalist

Date:

18 December 2023

For many people – me included – Senna is the best film yet made about motorsport. But why, given all its talent and budget and technology, has Hollywood not been able to improve on a documentary made with grainy 1980s and ’90s TV footage, whose tragic ending we already knew?

Ferrari, the new biopic by Michael Mann which opens on Boxing Day, might finally be the film to do that. It’s about arguably the single most important figure in motorsport, stars two of Hollywood’s biggest names and is directed by the guy who made Manhunter, Heat and Ali, and who has wanted to make a film about Enzo for 20 years.

The ingredients look right, but history urges caution. Hollywood struggles with racing scenes. Real racing has as much drama and danger and human consequence as we can bear to watch, so any fictional portrayal risks looking hammy and fake. What works for a car chase seldom works for a race. Hollywood likes to elongate its action scenes, whereas the critical moments in motorsport can pass in a split second. We see God-given talent and championships won or lost in the instant a driver dives into a gap or brakes a few metres later. But Hollywood and its mass audiences want to see extended door-banging and fierce glares between rivals, one of whom wins by somehow finding an eleventh gear and five hundred horsepower, mysteriously absent until that very moment.

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