Ford v Ferrari : ‘TIFF’ Review – Winner All The Way
Ford v Ferrari was the longest film I watched at TIFF’19. Yet, it was the most engaging. Despite being driven by a simple and predictable story, it was the most exhilarating. It doesn’t feature creative ideas, doesn’t have high ambitions or uniqueness of some of the other best films of the year. And yet, somehow, it blew me away with its craft.
“Henry Ford II wants to take on Enzo Ferrari at Le Mans, an annual 24-hour racing spectacle that Ferrari dominates. While at first, it seems like a preposterous idea, Ford just may have found the right guys to turn this dream into reality.”
It’s a perfect example of a simple story being brilliantly executed. It’s a film in which every department is at the top of its game. Resulting in a fine-tuned and polished to perfection finished product that zooms past the finish line in style and grace. Much like the many teams that have to come together in perfect synergy for a race car to go 100’s of laps, everything in this film comes together wonderfully to deliver an absolute knockout package.
As someone who had no prior knowledge of the true events the story chronicles or of the sport of racing in general, I came away with a newfound appreciation for the sport and a desire to know more about the people and story itself. I’ve since read the book and am all set for a re-watch. I liked the screenplay choices to center the narrative on two main protagonists and their journey together and friendship. It gives the film an emotional core and hook that was missing in the book.
The race scenes are exciting and involving. Some might think they go on too long but I was completely invested. The cinematography and sound design capture these moments in a thrilling fashion and often ramp up the tension. Racing is a dangerous sport, even more so in the 1960s. The film really captures the intensity and claustrophobia of being strapped into a tight space moving at over 200 miles per hour.
The off the track drama is just as compelling with fleshed-out protagonists and well-written dialog. Matt Damon does a fine job as Carroll Shelby, he’s charming and likable. Christian Bale as Ken Miles is excellent as always (it’s only been what, 8 months since his last brilliant performance?). His is the more challenging role and he completely delivers. Caitriona Balfe does the best she can with the “wife of protagonist” role and gets a few memorable moments, but does feel underutilized. The rest of the supporting cast is all good with what they’re given.
Ford v Ferrari managed to win over this non-racing enthusiast and get him to read a book on the subject. Needless to say, this film worked on multiple levels for me. It’s got thrilling races, engrossing off the track drama, lots of heart, wit, and sincerity. It’s a terrific time at the movies and among my favorites of 2019. Race to the theatres and go see it for yourselves!