Film Reviews and Discussion.
Dir: Ron Howard
Duration: 123 minutes
A retelling of a famously bitter and volatile rivalry. Has Ron Howard evaded caricature in this high-octane biopic of sorts?
Niki Lauda and James Hunt were not the very best of friends. Or were they? It was a confusing relationship and one that was marked by verbal dismissal and antagonistic exchanges on both sides. For his latest feature film, Ron Howard has employed the help of screenwriter Peter Morgan to shed some light on this fractious and contemptuous pairing.
Taking the role of the talented playboy James Hunt is Chris Hemsworth. For the less flattering role of the studious and socially inept Lauda, Daniel Bruhl fills the shoes. Both are a revelation.
The film accelerates in much the same way as the cars do. From the off, it grabs you by the scruff of the lapels and stirs you into a dizzying dash firstly through the budding promise of talent and initial entanglements and then the infamously fierce 1976 Formula 1 world championship. There are reasonable concerns that the stylistic presentation of Rush – by esteemed cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, no less – could place a (crash) barrier between audience and narrative. It is a noticeably mannered style and one that potentially suggests a cool detachment; an exercise in flamboyance. Such concerns need not last long.
This is a consistently engaging work and one that has both style and substance. It is a rare thing indeed. Peter Morgan is well versed in turning fact-based material into a theatrical event and he would appear to have managed to do history some justice here. This might possibly be down to the fact that he was able to spend a lot of time in the company of Niki Lauda. In any event, the hard work has paid off. The only minor complaint would be the fact that there is a soft-edge here in the tying up of the knots that might be fluffier than reality would have no doubt offered. Even so, this is a very small quibble. Over all, what you have here is a tale of two personalities at the opposite end of the spectrum yet also very much the same, from a slanted and skew-eyed angle. To love the same, but in two wildly different ways. In answer to the question at the top of the review, the answer is yes, he has avoided caricature.
It may be possible to state that this feature is the strongest Ron Howard production in some time. It is a perfect melding of a tightly balanced script and a beautiful realised direction. It is well worth a not-so-graceful rush to the theatres to see it before it zips and accelerates out of view.