With Ford v Ferrari there are two types of viewings. The first, dedicated to all car lovers who, of course, know about the famous battle between the Ford and Ferrari teams; and the second, for those who have no idea of the incredible events that occurred in 1966 during the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a resistance race with place in France and that provides the stage to develop the plot. Whatever the case, Mangold, a distinguished storyteller, manages to immerse us completely in a drama that uses motoring as an excuse to portray a genuine and unwavering friendship. Watch now the movie and experience this real life based drama.
And the human side is particularly the highest point of Ford v Ferrari, which never falls into sentimentalities or melodrams. The interpretations of Bale and Damon, two proven monsters in the performance, enhance the film, but at the same time, leave room for the fascinating secondary characters to shine from their respective showcases. Here we cannot fail to mention Caitriona Balfe as the empowered Mollie Miles, and Tracy Letts as the imposing Henry Ford II. Both equally remarkable as the leading duo.
This is a movie of racing cars and extraordinary individuals. Watching it, it made us remember how common that dramatic tension between individuals and groups is in American culture. It can be seen in all genres of classical cinema, from melodrama to cowboy, from criminal cinema to comedy. And it is so traditional that Alexis de Tocqueville dedicates a couple of chapters to individualism in his book Democracy in America, first published in 1832.
The fact is that a long time ago we did not see a film in which that was the central element, and, in addition, so obviously criticized the collective. Perhaps because in this present weighed down by pollution and climate change, by the awareness of the interconnection of people and beings, that exaltation of extraordinary types has proved to be much more problematic than previously thought. But here it is and that makes this film also feel like from another era.
Ford v Ferrari takes place in 1966, when the Ford Motor Company, led by Henry Ford II (grandson of the original Ford), seeks to enter the world of Gran Turismo cars to dethrone Ferrari, its undisputed leader. The idea is that a triumph in 24 Hours of Le Mans would take away from Ford the aura of reliable and boring company to give him some sexapil, and thus attract young rebels and with money to spend.
There enter the two extraordinary beings: Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), the first American to win the legendary competition; and Ken Miles (Christian Bale), an eccentric pilot and mechanic who ends up recruited to drive on the project.
The villains here are not so much the Ferrari rivals - although there are evil drivers who smile only from one side of the mouth - but the organizational structure of Ford that finances the project while, at the same time, trying to restrain these passionate and free guys. Especially Miles, whom he considers a risk to the public image of the company.
Christian Bale, as usual, offers an intense performance that borders on the disturbing. There is no one like him in current Hollywood cinema to interpret guys possessed by his dreams and his obsessions, and here, thin and haggard, he makes a good version of that figure.
The races are exciting and those dramatic springs, although a bit rusty, work so well that their two and a half hours do not even feel. How not to be on the side of these individuals if each of us in the audience is one? How not to boo these gray guys, hairstyles and dresses all the same?
The problem with these dramatic schemes, or with the individualism that Tocqueville noted so long ago, is their way of undermining the political dimensions of existence and diluting the awareness that communities have a common destiny.
But these are considerations that this film, well oiled and dynamic, only wakes up after a while, when one is already far from the theater and begins to wonder why it feels so strange, so hopeless and only on the way home. Watch online the movie and see if it's worth its duration or not.