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FERRARI (2023)

Release Date: 12/25/23 [Cinemas]
Genre: Biography. Drama. History.

Studio: Neon

[Seen at BFI London Film Festival 2023]

"Set in the summer of 1957, with Enzo Ferrari's auto empire in crisis, the ex-racer turned entrepreneur pushes himself and his drivers to the edge as they launch into the Mille Miglia, a treacherous 1,000-mile race across Italy." 


Death, taxes, and biopics during award season. Three things you can always count on. Michael Mann’s Ferrari is set in 1957, a decade after Enzo Ferrari’s signature ride was introduced to the world. Enzo’s (Adam Driver) company is on the brink of collapse, and his personal life is as bumpy as an unpaved Italian road. His tumultuous relationship with his mostly estranged wife Laura (Penelope Cruz) has only gotten worse since the tragic death of their young son. Meanwhile, Enzo shares another son with his mistress Lina (Shailene Woodley), whose conflict centers around Enzo’s unwillingness to allow the child to take his last name. Rich people problems, am I right? To save his brand from financial collapse, Enzo takes a huge gamble by wagering his fortune to enter the Mille Miglia, an iconic (and dangerous) thousand-mile race through Italy.


It's a decision that will have deadly consequences and provides us with a gory and shocking display of carnage that rivals any movie in the Saw franchise. It feels out of place and drew some uncomfortable laughter from the audience at my screening. In fact, there are several odd instances which led to chuckles from the crowd, though I’m still not sure the laughs were intentional. For a film that seems to want to shove its Italian-ness in our faces, there are very few actual Italians to be found. Woodley, at one point, audibly reminds Enzo, “I am an Italian woman,” as if he were going to forget. At least Driver is getting some good use out of his House of Gucci accent.


Patrick Dempsey gives a pleasant enough performance as Italian race car driver Piero Taruffi, and his fast and furious ride through rough terrain provides some of the most thrilling parts of the movie. The race scenes are, for lack of a better word, cool – and Driver and Cruz’s commitment to their performances helps anchor an otherwise noisy mess. I heard one person at my screening describe the film as “a two-hour advertisement for Ferrari.” It might be a tad reductive, but I get where they came from.


Adam Driver fans may adore Ferrari for his commitment to the bit, and the racing scenes will satiate those seeking out an adrenaline rush. Overall, Ferrari left me wanting more, while also counting the minutes until it was over.

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