Monday, October 28, 2013

Rush [2013]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (L)  ChicagoTribune (2 1/2 Stars) (2 Stars)  AVClub (B-)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (S. Wloszczyna) review
AVClub (B. Kenigsberg) review

Rush [2013] (directed by Ron Howard, screenplay by Peter Morgan) is straight-up car-racing movie that doesn't involve any bank-robberies or shooting.  Instead it's about an epic rivalry between two very different 70s-era formula-one drivers the brash/playboy Englishman James Hunt (played in the film by Chris Hemsworth) and the relentless/methodical Austrian Niki Lauda (played in the film by Daniel Brühl).  Both were incidentally from upper/upper-middle class homes (Hunt was the son of a London stockbroker, Lauda the son of an Austrian banker) and both were effectively disowned by their families for choosing to waste their lives on frivolity.

Yes, it's clear from the film that formula-one racing required money.  Niki Lauda is shown as having impressed the Ferrari family enough to convince them, Austrian though he was..., to race for their team, while Hunt managed to convince a British racing consortium that he stood the best chance of beating Lauda having done so back in their formula-three "minor league" pasts.  But then, this is part of the formula-one mystique.  Its drivers and races (held in all sorts of exotic cities across the world) could be compared to the medieval jousting knights and tournaments of old.

So then this then is the set-up of the film: the high-rolling/partying Englishman Hunt chasing the more cerebral Lauda for the 1976 Formula One Gran-Prix championship.  Both of course have love interests.  Hunt enters the 1976 season married but not particularly faithful to an English supermodel named Suzy Miller (played in the film by Olivia Wilde).  And during the course of the season, Lauda marries his German speaking Italian girlfriend Marlene (played in the film by Alexandria Maria Lara) who he had met, quite accidentally apparently, at a Ferarri family party.   The love lives of the two racers do, in fact, play significant roles in how the racing season (and hence the film) plays out.

All in all, I found the film to be very exciting.  Yes, car racing is often characterized as simply "racing around in circles."  Yet, formula-one racing is, in fact, more than just that.  Each of the race courses is different and when one adds variations in climate / weather / road conditions, one's left in awe at the bravery (or angry at the arrogance/recklessness) of the drivers.   IMHO it makes for one heck of a film!

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