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  • Writer's pictureBen Pivoz

Ferrari


Enzo Ferrari (Adam Driver) strives to have the best racing cars in the world in Ferrari (Distributed by Neon)

On the evidence provided in the biographical drama Ferrari, Enzo Ferrari was an impossible man. An inexhaustible competitor with little compassion for his drivers, a lover who expected his women to accept having him around whenever he could spare the time, a devoted father, to his two sons and to his company, he is a fascinating collection of frustrating complications. The movie about him is, too.


Ferrari (124 minutes, without the end credits) is well-paced and exciting, with very good performances. It also feels emotionally stilted and narratively distracted. Enzo’s relationship with his fiery wife, Laura, is the most engaging aspect of this story. His drive to have the best racing company in the world takes up far more space, pushing Laura offscreen for lengthy stretches, and is not nearly as compelling.


In 1957, Ferrari is on the brink of going under. Enzo Ferrari, bouncing between an angry wife and a girlfriend (with his son) who wants more out of him, tries to bring his company to glory by preparing his team to win a major race.


Adam Driver makes Enzo interesting, even if he does not have many redeeming qualities. There’s a magnetism, a confidence, to him that is difficult to look away from. We can understand why people are drawn to him, despite what can seem like heartlessness on his part. We are supposed to believe he has learned to push painful emotions away, following his experiences in World War II and the recent loss of his oldest son. However, there isn’t much to suggest that he has hardened. It is more like he has shifted his focus entirely onto what he can control; namely, his cars. There is a detachment to him that extends to Ferrari as a whole, except for the scenes where he is with Laura.

Penélope Cruz as Laura Ferrari

She is played by Penelope Cruz as a woman who grieves for her son and feels betrayed by her husband. She knows he sleeps around, but still expects him to hold up his end of their marriage (she is unaware that he has a second family). She owns half of Ferrari, which puts a hitch in his business dealings. All of the scenes featuring Driver and Cruz contain a passion and intimacy the rest of this movie lacks. At any moment things between them could get violent, sad or sexual. You can see why they loved each other and also why Enzo lives elsewhere. Though the movie overall has its issues, Driver and Cruz are definitely deserving of awards consideration. What surrounds them just doesn’t have the same immediacy.


Director Michael Mann makes the race action thrilling, yet the stakes are muted. We barely know the people in those cars, so their personal success or failure is essentially irrelevant. They don’t even work as avatars for Enzo because he mostly watches (or listens) dispassionately. Mann keeps things moving from scene-to-scene, preventing this from dragging. But the sports element doesn’t land and Enzo comes off as so disconnected from much of his life that it’s hard to care.


If this had largely been about Enzo Ferrari and his bumpy relationship with Laura, it would have had an obvious purpose. Instead, Ferrari (based on the 1991 non-fiction book Enzo Ferrari: The Man, The Cars, The Races, The Machine by Brock Yates) doesn’t really appear to know what it wants to say about him. Was he a genius? A selfish control-freak? A loving family man? Someone whose only concern was winning? All of the above, maybe? The picture isn’t clear. There is enough skill on display to get a viewer through a couple of hours painlessly, though the execution isn’t quite there at the story level.

 

3 out of 5

 

Cast:

Adam Driver as Enzo Ferrari

Penélope Cruz as Laura Ferrari

Shailene Woodley as Lina Lardi

Giuseppe Festinese as Piero Lardi

 

Directed by Michael Mann

Written by Troy Kennedy Martin

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