Can’t make you care about cars

Film Review of Ferrari. Picture: ON FILE


Starring Adam Driver, Penelope Cruz and Shailene Woodley

Rated MA15+


A biopic about Italian racer and car tycoon Enzo Ferrari (Adam Driver), Ferrari is, ironically, less interesting when it focuses on the race-cars.

Director Michael Mann (Manhunter, Heat, Collateral) excels with anti-heroes and morally-grey narratives, and Ferrari is full of poignant, powerful performances. Driver plays Enzo with soft-spoken intensity, playing a demanding, hyperfocused figure, while Penelope Cruz is a harried force of will as Enzo’s wife Laura. Shailene Woodley is the weak link as Enzo’s mistress Lina, If only for her slipping accent. The film features sumptuous cinematography and some clever cuts and uses of juxtaposition, and the racing sequences are dynamic and perilous (although the final Mille Miglia race is slightly hard to follow due to the identity-obscuring helmets and goggles and racers on both teams driving red cars).

Ferrari’s one major flaw is a poor balance of internal and external conflict. Enzo’s personal struggles, including his complicated relationship with his illegitimate son Piero, are quietly heartbreaking, and the plot has that slow, deliberate, immersive pacing that I enjoy. The broader dramatic goal, on the other hand – Ferrari must win the Mille Miglia or go bankrupt – is less engaging. It would be easy to say I have no interest in cars, but a conflict can still engage if it holds clear, pressing importance for the characters; if they care, you care. Win the race or go broke are unconvincing stakes due to Enzo’s unflappable attitude and affluence, and even after a shocking crash in the climax, nothing sticks in terms of consequence.

An unbalanced character drama about a car tycoon in which the cars counterintuitively get in the way of the drama, Ferrari is playing in most Victorian cinemas.

– Seth Lukas Hynes