FERRARI Depicts Both the Enigmatic Genius and Weaknesses of the Legendary Car Designer

From acclaimed filmmaker Michael Mann (Thief, Heat, The Insider) comes a fascinating character study of Enzo Ferrari, a former race car driver-turned-car designer/entrepreneur. Not a comprehensive biopic, Ferrari follows Enzo in 1957 as he obsesses over remaining a viable and competitive brand in the racing circuit while attempting to juggle his business problems and personal troubles. Adam Driver stars as the titular character and delivers a fantastic performance.

As Mann’s film depicts, 1957 was an arduous year for Enzo Ferrari. In addition to mourning for the loss of their beloved son Dino, both Enzo and his wife Laura (Penelope Cruz) have reached the frayed ends of their troubled marriage. Meanwhile, Enzo, who is in love with another woman, Lina Lardi (Shailene Woodley), often “sneaks” away from home and work to spend time with both her and their son Piero (Giuseppe Festinese). In addition, Ferrari needs help to keep a handle on his racing obsession while keeping his car manufacturing business afloat.

With a screenplay by Troy Kennedy Martin, Michael Mann delivers a riveting movie with Ferrari. From the personal dramas at home and with his mistress, in addition to the racing circuit, car designing, and building, it amazed me how Ferrari could appear to be keeping it all together, even though the reality reflects otherwise. Mann, Martin, and his primarily phenomenal cast deliver extraordinary work recreating these critical moments in Enzo’s life and career.

In addition, the racing sequences are breathtaking and appropriately disturbing when things go horrifically wrong. Mann works with cinematograper Erik Messerschmidt, editor Pietro Scalia, and an exceptionally talent crew of effects artists to make Mann’s vision look amazing.

As far as the cast is concerned, I marveled at the performances of Adam Driver and Penelope Cruz. Enzo and Laura’s fiery and tumultuous relationship is on display and recreated for outstanding dramatic effect. Both actors bring much passion and drive to their roles that will make audiences believe this is precisely how the real people were. And while I like Shailene Woodley, she was miscast as Enzo’s lover Lina Lardi. Though good at drama, she fails at consistently pulling off her accent.

Ferrari opens in theaters on Christmas Day and should be a real treat for cinephiles who adore Michael Mann’s films.

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