Ferrari | Review by: Amanda Guarragi
When we think of race car driving, the one brand we remember vividly on the track with a Testarossa is “Ferrari.” The sleekness of the car and the bold red colour stands out above the rest. Enzo Ferrari wanted to make the perfect race car. A car that would win, and everyone would want to drive. After years of perfecting the manufacturing of his race cars, the economic situation in Italy was abysmal, and Ferrari was underfunded. Enzo Ferrari almost went bankrupt in 1969 because of it. In Michael Mann’s Ferrari, he focused on one summer in 1957 that was a defining moment for Enzo (Adam Driver) because his empire was in crisis. Mann incorporates Enzo’s stress on the track and his determination to stay afloat. However, the heart of Ferrari lies with Enzo’s family and how the loss of a child deeply affected him. Not knowing about Enzo Ferrari and his family will give you a new appreciation for those entrepreneurs who still fight to the top. The sports aspect of the film is engaging because Mann authentically captures the racetrack and the Ferraris in all their glory. But he also crafts such an intimate and emotional family narrative about grief.
The one thing that is most commendable in Ferrari is that Mann accurately depicts Italian culture. Compared to other films that have been released in the past few years, he did not make a mockery of them. Adam Driver was transformed into a “Signore”: an old, suave Italian man with a towering presence controlling any room he walks into. Mann sets the tone early with Enzo’s influence in the town. He goes from one home with his mistress, Lina Lardi (Shailene Woodley), to another with his wife, Laura Ferrari (Penelope Cruz). It was a slow-moving film exploring Enzo’s relationships with the women in his life. After losing his son to an illness with Laura, their marriage took a hit, and he fell in love with Lina Lardi in the interim. He rebuilt his life outside the Ferrari brand with Lina and his son. Mann shows that Laura understands the business side of Enzo, while Lina understands Enzo as a husband and father. Enzo struggles with his identity because his life is divided between two sides of himself. With Lina, he’s running away from his past and looking forward to a beautiful future with his son. But with Laura, he has to hold onto his empire and his grief.
When Mann and his director of photography, Erick Messerschmidt, were out on the race track, the beauty of the race cars came to life. When Enzo pressed forward to get his drivers into the Mille Miglia, we saw the former race car driver come out and help his drivers win. Mann and Messerschmidt kept the frame tight on the race cars on every turn. Every single aspect that goes into racing was captured perfectly. However, the divide in Enzo’s life did take a toll on the film because it wasn’t as balanced as it should have been. There were moments when the film dragged, and only Cruz’s Laura could pick up the energy again. The film would have fallen flat entirely if it wasn’t for Cruz stealing every scene she was in. It felt like a piece was missing for this to be even better than it is. Mann’s style suits the Ferrari story, but the melodrama weighed it down. He is a gifted storyteller and did highlight the life of Enzo Ferrari quite well, but it didn’t have a strong enough script for it to be stretched into this runtime. It’s an uneven sports drama with another great performance from Driver, but there could have been more racing in the film to balance out his personal life.
Ferrari is a uniquely crafted biopic that had trouble balancing Enzo Ferrari’s life on and off the track. It’s not a standard sports biography, and that’s because of Mann’s sleekness when depicting Italian culture and the lifestyle of a race car driver. There was too much happening at once to Enzo, and he was slowly losing himself. He almost lost his new family and business because he didn’t know what to do. If you have been a long-time fan of Enzo Ferrari, then you will appreciate what Mann did with this film. The universal connectivity to grief grounds Enzo’s story and allows audiences to see a different side of the iconic creator. Enzo never wanted to make the same mistakes with his new family, yet because he was in a different position financially, he made new mistakes. Due to the slow pace of the film, the momentum from the races wasn’t enough to breathe some fire into this film. The conversations shared between Enzo and Laura were more engaging than his conversations with Lina. That was a contributing factor to some dull moments throughout. Although the performances were strong, they weren’t enough to make this a well-rounded film based on Enzo’s life story.
Review by: Amanda Guarragi
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