Ferrari is a very mildly paced film that has flashes of engaging moments that get lost behind a smokescreen of uninteresting drama and poor accents. Not nearly the awards player or racing film that many thought it would be, Ferrari is another curious case of having a ton of top-level talent and an intriguing subject matter result in a largely uninteresting film that feels like it could’ve been so much more. After a decade of great racing films that have performed well and told fantastic stories, it’s a bit disappointing to say that Ferrari doesn’t come close to the likes of Rush, Ford v. Ferrari, or even this year’s Gran Turismo.
In the year of 1957 Enzo Ferrari (Adam Driver) is battling financial troubles with his Ferrari company and finds himself in the middle of an emotional crisis as well. Having troubles with his wife Laura (Penelope Cruz), Enzo spends his time with his secret lover Lina (Shailene Woodley) and the child they share who’s been kept from the public. As Enzo seeks to find a new driver for the Mille Miglia 1,000 Mile race, he must also entertain his plans for Ferrari’s future and how to secure the business for good.
Michael Mann returns to the director’s chair after a 7-year hiatus and though he brings with him his usual style and methods of storytelling, I can’t help but feel a bit underwhelmed with the overall execution of the movie. Balancing drama and thrilling car sequences can be difficult, but in most cases, it often feels like the dramatic stakes only heighten the stakes of the racing that’s to follow. In Ferrari we understand why Enzo needs his team to win the Mille Miglia, but at no point did the dire situation he was in ever feel insurmountable or impossible to the audience. Perhaps it’s the wiring and dialogue between Enzo and his wife, but I found myself caring very little about their interactions and not totally feeling like the race was all it was built up to be.
Adam Driver continues to prove that he can deliver great dramatic performances and that he also should probably stay away from Italian accents, as I had flashbacks to The House of Gucci and the wacky accents in that film. Shailene Woodley’s Italian accent is no better than Driver’s here, making their screenwork together sometimes ineligible and often odd sounding as they slip between different accents. The dramatic relationship between Enzo and Laura is certainly one that has enjoyable explosive moments, but it really felt like Penelope Cruz was acting circles around the rest of the cast and at times it felt she was in a different movie altogether.
Ferrari may have all the exterior trappings of the luxurious sports cars of the same name, but under the hood is an engine that wasn’t quite equipped to tell this story in a way that really stuns the audience the way the cars do. For all of Penelope Cruz’s great line reads and some enjoyable car content, poorly edited CGI crashes and uninteresting drama keeps Ferrari from powering to the finish line of this awards season.
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