Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA/Germany/United Kingdom, 2013. Exclusive Media Group, Cross Creek Pictures, Imagine Entertainment, Revolution Films, Working Title Films, Double Negative. Screenplay by Peter Morgan. Cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle. Produced by Andrew Eaton, Eric Fellner, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Peter Morgan, Brian Oliver. Music by Hans Zimmer. Production Design by Mark Digby. Costume Design by Julian Day. Film Editing by Daniel P. Hanley, Mike Hill. Boston Film Critics Awards 2013. Golden Globe Awards 2013. Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2013. Toronto International Film Festival 2013. Washington Film Critics Awards 2013.
The real-life rivalry between Formula One drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt provides the spine of this thoughtful and diverting drama set in the world of fast cars and explosive egos. While Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) captures the world’s imagination with his handsome looks and irresistible, English playboy arrogance, Lauda (Daniel Brühl) turns people off with his Austrian rigour, humourless manner and dour face. The competitions progress and the two are set against each other as they prove valiant rivals, both of them adept at winning races and devoted to becoming as good as they can, but there is no doubt that outdoing each other personally is as much at the heart of their efforts as doing their best on the track. Lauda is so determined to win that even a fiery crash that nearly kills him (and provides for a gruesome recovery) does not keep him away from his favourite pastime, while Hunt struggles to overcome a crumbling personal life to prove that he truly can make something of himself. There isn’t much more to the plot than that, but Ron Howard wisely shows off Peter Morgan’s smart script and developed characters as much as he does his own prowess with skilled editing and slick cinematography. The bittersweet conclusion is not masked in self-important nostalgia, surprisingly touching after all the male ego-indulgence that it threatens to lionize throughout.