Ferrari Movie Review
Adam Driver says stuff with an Italian accent in Michael Mann’s Ferrari, a decent biopic that kicks into high gear when rubber meets the road but doesn’t hug the corners the way you’d hope.
Set in 1957, the movie follows Enzo Ferrari as he faces the risk of bankruptcy and the destruction of his marriage to Laura (Penélope Cruz), complicated by the fact that he’s in love with Lina (Shailene Woodley), who may or may not have a secret child with the former racecar driver.
Mann has given us some fantastic movies in his career (Heat, The Last of the Mohicans, and The Insider to name a few), but it’s been 20 years since his last worthy picture (Collateral). Ferrari is his first movie in eight years following the disastrous and embarrassing Blackhat, and thankfully the movie is in part a return to form. Much of the picture looks great, with a tense score that elevates the material. Mann has a technical style that is unique, and Ferrari looks like a movie from a man who still has what it takes.
But Ferrari, released in December to presumably garner award attention, is a second-rate contender. There’s nothing wrong with that–there’s nothing significantly wrong with the movie–as long as everyone involved knows that’s the case. It’s clear Mann and crew think they have something more important at play.
The story I suppose could be captivating, but it all feels a bit slight. Driver does a good job playing the title character, though it’s weird to see the 40-year-old playing a white-haired 60-year-old. Enzo Ferrari, presented here, isn’t a particularly compelling character, and that’s the central problem. Sure, he has business problems. Sure, winning a long-distance race will thrust Ferrari the company back into the news and sell more cars. Sure, he has a complicated home life. But what makes him tick? What simmers beneath the surface? Ferrari doesn’t go there, or at least it doesn’t get there.
Aside from one shockingly gnarly crash scene that comes from out of nowhere (unless you’re a racing history buff), there’s nothing especially memorable about Ferrari. Mann revs the engine a few times but never achieves full speed.
One standout is Cruz. Ever the fantastic actor, Cruz makes the most of her limited screen time with a riveting, powerful, and emotional performance. Frankly, there is arguably a more fascinating movie that doesn’t exist with her as the central character, a woman who is in part a partner to Ferrari but also a passenger in her own life story.
Ferrari has enough to like but very little to love. These days, that’s not enough.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.