Ford v Ferrari (James Mangold, 2019) wr. Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, Jason Keller; Matt Damon (Carroll Shelby), Christian Bale (Ken Miles); car racing
American car designer Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford and challenge Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966.
Spoilers follow, but in a film like this, based on fact, it's not important - you probably know the story anyway
I was looking forward to this being over so that I could get to my iPad and check out all the licences that the writers had taken with history. I was really surprised to find that it's all true. ... There is one detail, however, that was I quite right to not believe. In the film, the three Ford cars cross the finish in a straight line across the track. Photos of the occasion show McLaren's car crossing together with Miles's - but the third car is a few metres behind. Unimportant detail, but I was pleased I could at least spot that.
I could have a lot to say about matters such as sunglasses and coffee mugs and backlighting, but I should get straight to ideological matters. It seems to me that Mangold's film pulls off the almost-impossible feat of opposing the individual to the capitalist monolith, and having both win. And it's summed up in the scene I've just described. The individualist hero allows himself to finish equal with others (and, as it turns out, actually comes second due to a technicality in the race rules).
Throughout the film, Shelby and even more so Miles are constructed as brilliant mavericks who if just left to do things their own way will conquer the world in which they have their being. But they need Ford's money to do this one thing: win the 24 Heures du Man. And the Ford Company is a bit like the North Korean government, having total control over everyone it reaches, and run by a tyrannical dynasty.
Those two ideological constructs, the free individual and the capitalist corporation, may represent two polar opposites in American society and psyche which somehow have to co-exist. And this film brings this off triumphally.
That's not to say it's a good film. It's a boring piece of shit not worth writing even this much about.
Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 17 January, 2020 | Now: 22 January, 2020