It was just yesterday that I was seated for Ford v. Ferrari (2019), and I did not know what to expect. I half expected something flat, but I also half expected something spectacular because of the amazing reviews I had read about the film. What I was left with was not "spectacular." No, the right wording for this film would be things like "genuine," "memorable," "outstanding," and more. This film was well-written, perfectly acted out, beautifully shot, action-packed, and full of so much honest emotion. It's a story told magically, and it captures the character and retro-feel of the time, while also never losing sight of the people it's trying to portray.
Voiced over by Carroll Shelby, Ford v. Ferrari is a film that follows the events before and just after the Le Mans '66, but it mostly circulates around the two astonishing men behind the race, in the midst of the action, and in charge of the heart (or engine) of the story- Ken Miles and Carroll Shelby (played by Christian Bale and Matt Damon.)
From the very beginning of the film, the audience is put right on the racetrack. You are part of the race with our characters, and as the film carries on, you feel like you have something to lose with these men. Every time Ken passed someone on the track, you felt the rush like you were in the car with him, and the voiceover sets this tone of the racers with a true passion. This passion is equated to 7000 RPMs throughout the voiceover and throughout moments of the film. You come to understand the freedom and the "flying" that comes along with racing.
The rapport between the two men (Bale and Damon) was astonishing. It kept you laughing, and it kept you on your toes. Their chemistry is what brings you into the emotions of the film. They teach you how to understand each other, and along with them is an attachment to their characters. Matt Damon delivered a subtle and candid performance as Carroll Shelby- the racer, the man, the car lover, and the legend. He didn't need an outburst of tears for you to feel the intensity of what he was feeling. The small facial expressions, the choked words, and more really paint a picture of who this character is and what he believes in.
Christian Bale took this film and the part by storm. He came in with his natural accent and just completely stole the crowd. He was so hilarious. He was full of so much fieriness and passion. He was wild, yet completely understandable. He blew me away in this performance with the way he completely transformed himself into Ken Miles. These two men together, delivering strong performances, pushed the sentiment of this film over the edge. Their moments together were the best... well, those and the racing scenes of course.
Directed by James Mangold, the film follows Henry Ford II and his attempt to beat Enzo Ferrari at the 1966 Le Mans race, hence the Ford v. Ferrari title. But there is an underlying rivalry that presents itself during this film, and that's the suits of corporate America v. the maverick working men. Ford may be the underdog in their race against Ferrari, but they are the looming evil of capitalism trying to keep out and push down passionate men like Ken Miles who won't conform to their hellish, cookie-cutter ways. At the end of the day, they only care about their image and their money. As part of the audience, I wasn't rooting for Ford; I was rooting for Ken Miles and Shelby, who just so happened to work with Ford and drove Ford cars.
There are so many other themes that should be pointed out in this film...like the sunglasses. Along with the masterfully created scenes of race tracks and cars, there are an abundance of moments where people are just putting on some shades. Every time the camera closed in on a character putting on a pair of shades, I got a new burst of energy. It felt like a true nod to the times and the culture racing.
Overall, the film is full of action but it is also surprisingly heartfelt and emotional. It tells a story of male friendships, passion, racing, and it's an emotionally baring underdog story that pulls at your heart strings. It works like a harmonious racing crew- no part can succeed without the rest. You need a pit-crew, designers, engineers, a well-oiled and fast car, and a racer that cares for and understands the car, and there's no doubt this film had all of that with TWO racers that cared about the product. As part of the audience, I was brought into the mix and passion of it all. I was part of the pit crew, myself.
**If Christian Bale doesn't atleast get a nomination for his astonishing role... well then that's absolutely fucked, in the words of Miles himself.
Jacindable Rating: ★★★★
starring, Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe, Tracy Letts, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe, Remo Girone, Ray McKinnon, and more
directed and written by, James Mangold, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, and Jason Keller
My name is Jacinda, and I am a film lover and student. Check out more of my pieces at Flipscreened!
Go Check Out FilmForThought Reviews!