I have been surprised to hear from everyone I talk to (that’s not a film buff) that they are interested in ‘Ford V Ferrari’ but it looks like it’s a documentary. What! I’m not sure what advertisement they are watching, but I heard this from 4 different individuals at my office. So, I’m here to tell you definitively, that this is not a documentary. This is not just a racing movie. This is not even really about Ford Vs Ferrari. This movie is so much more than that.
Yes, there is a level of documentary to this film. The movie is about a piece of history and it does a smashing job of filling in the details of that piece of history. Yes, it is a racing movie. Oh, and the race sequences in this film are absolutely stunning. The cinematography by Phedon Papamichael is intense and steady. The editing is smooth and paced to keep you on the edge of your seat. And, yes, it is about a race between Ford and Ferrari. I would argue that the race is about a lot more than that, but I’m not going to ruin anything for those who don’t know the history.
Now, while this movie may be about all those things I mentioned, that’s not really what the movie is about. The movie is simply about two men, and the friendship that led to one of the greatest racing tales in history. Oh sure, it’s about so much more. It’s about how far someone will go to achieve greatness and how far a manager will go to make sure that the right person is in the right position. It’s about finding greatness in another and fighting for what you believe is right. It’s about the politics of racing and marketing show that it all is. It’s about a ton of stuff that makes it uniquely compelling, but that’s not it’s heart.
At the heart of this film, is just simply two men and their friendship. Christian Bale and Matt Damon play Ken Miles and Carroll Shelby. Two of the greatest racers in history. In 1966, Shelby was tasked by Ford to build a car that could defeat Ferrari, but they needed much more than that. So, Shelby fought to put his friend Ken Miles in the driver seat. The problem was that Ken was a difficulty and opinionated guy. Which made Ford executives dislike him. But Shelby knew he was the best, and he risked his whole career on him.
The whole thing plays out in scenes that range from crowd pleasing to heartbreaking, but always engaging. Director Jim Mangold has fashioned an epic race story with the heart of an old fashioned friendship story. Yet, he’s done this without ever sacrificing reality for artifice. He utilizes the tools of the trade to deliver a historical drama that has all the entertainment value of a Hollywood blockbuster. There may be more dramatic film, funnier films, and more epic films this year. But this one does them all in expert fashion. You will laugh and cry your way to the finish line.