Film: “Ferrari” starring Adam Driver
Formula 1 racing seems a lot like bike racing. There are intense rivalries among team memberls, and team managers who are as emotionally invested in winning as the players themselves.
This becomes clear in “Ferrari” (Prime Video), the Michael Mann film about the fabled Italian race car driver and entrepreneur.
As portrayed by Adam Driver, Enzo Ferrari is a tightly wound team manager who lives life at 200 miles per hour. The film is set in Modena, circa 1957, where he is assembling a team of world-class drivers for the Mille Miglia, an Italian road race event equivalent to cycling’s Tour de France. He is facing bankruptcy and needs a big win to continue operating. Victory on the race track, you see, is what sells cars—to folks like King Hussein, for instance.
Ferrari’s team includes Alfonso di Portagi (Gabriel Leone), a Hollywood-handsome professional racer who is dating movie star Linda Christian (Sarah Gadon); Piero Taruffi (Patrick Dempsey, who dyed his hair white for the part); as well as other big-name racers from the late 1950s. Ferrari goads them to complete not only against the Maserati team but against each other.
Meanwhile, Ferrari is fighting his own battles—one with Laura, his surly wife (Penelope Cruz) who owns half the company and who is reluctant to give him any slack, as she is bitter about her husband’s frequent infidelities. Ferrari—nicknamed “Il Commendatore”—is also dealing with a jealous mistress, Lina Lardi (Shailene Woodley) with whom he has sired an illegitimate son. Lina wants the child to bear the Ferrari name.
The climax of the film is the actual Mille Miglia itself, with cars speeding through the Italian countryside at supersonic speeds, making hairpin turns and missing each other by mere centimeters.
Driver (what a great name for an actor in a car movie!) is fine as Ferrari, acquitting himself in decent Italian-accented English. (To my great relief, he doesn’t sound like Topo Gigio.) The real talent here is Cruz, who chews scenery and is both fiery and sexy as the cuckolded wife.
In short, “Ferrari” is a solid, very entertaining race-car driving movie that tries to be something more than a race-car driving movie. It succeeds. For now, I’ll stick to two wheels rather than four. Grazie.