Telluride 2019: “Ford v Ferrari” Review
Ford v Ferrari starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale had its world premiere at Telluride Film Festival. In the 1960s, the Ford Motor Company was looking for something different to break the mold and make Ford stand out. When they reached out to Ferrari to attempt to purchase it, they were manipulated and embarrassed. As retribution, Henry Ford II (Letts) wants to take on Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Their search for the perfect man to build the car brings them to Carrol Shely (Matt Damon) and his friend and race car driver, Ken Miles (Christian Bale). They race against time and Mr. Ford’s patience to build a racecar that can challenge the four-time le Mans champions, Ferrari.
The film starts during the studio slates demonstrating the powerhouse sound that will ruminate throughout the film. As we travel on this journey, the sound design is undeniably award-worthy and thoroughly enhanced the experience. The many racing scenes continue to be immersive. Visually, the film has a few moments that are memorable to see, but not too many that stand out on their own.
Christian Bale gives a performance that shows the intensity and determination of his character. Like most of his performances, he completely embraces the character and commits wholeheartedly. Matt Damon transforms into Carrol Shelby and delivers another fine performance. However, it is Bale and Damon together that truly makes the film as their chemistry is magical. While the film is slow to start, once we reach the crux of their passion, the film discovers the heart and humor it needs. It could have been more emotionally moving if they had explored the relationship between them a bit more but it suffices as is.
The supporting cast feels rarely used and a bit underdeveloped as characters. Having wonderful actors like Noah Jupe, Caitriona Balfe, and Jon Bernthal seems like a bit of a waste considering how little they were used. The film could also have spent more time developing the emotional connection between Noah, who plays Ken’s son and Caitriona who plays his wife. Their relationship seemed a bit lacking in the emotional weight and has some impact later on in the story.
While the film is incredibly exciting, the slow start makes you feel the length of the film. Toward the end of the film, there were a few false endings that felt like the film could have ended there, and this again added to the feeling that the film ran a bit long.
James Mangold’s direction of Ford v Ferrari shows a distinct passion and a true skill that few directors show in their films. Ford v Ferrari hits its stride when it fully embraces the humor and the adrenaline of the film fueled by the performances of Bale and Damon. Sound design and incredible stunt driving bring the film to life in a way that must be experienced on the big screen with the best sound system you can find.