“Ford v Ferrari” is an exhilarating film that is based on the journey of automotive designer (and ex-race car driver) Carroll Shelby and race car driver Ken Miles to build a car for Ford to compete against Ferrari at the race 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966.
Director James Mangold (known most notably for directing “Logan”) does a fantastic job in making this film worth the watch. His style is reminiscent of Damien Chazelle's in last year's critically acclaimed Apollo 11 biopic, “First Man,” where the cinematography connects the audience to the scenes by allowing them to witness the events from carefully chosen vantage points. The screenplay gives glimpses into the characters' personalities and relationships for example, an impromptu dance scene. The cinematography and screenplay synergize with each other to create an intimate and active experience — unlike “First Man,” where the experience is meant to be a lot more passive — where you feel like a part of the film.
Now, “Ford v Ferrari” would definitely not be the film that it is if not for the spectacular acting of two of the best actors in the world — Matt Damon and Christian Bale. Damon makes the tough role of Shelby seem like a piece of cake. Bale plays his character to perfection (as he always does), while nailing a British accent in the process. Caitriona Balfe is a revelation; her portrayal of Miles' wife, Mollie, is great in a performance comparable, again, to Claire Foy in “First Man,” who plays Armstrong's wife, Janet. Jon Bernthal, who plays Lee Iacocca, Ford's marketing director, is also commendable for making the sort of "good guy on the bad side" very likable. Noah Jupe's role (as Miles' son) isn't too demanding, but we'll see him again later this year in a pivotal role in the film “Honey Boy,” written by Shia LeBoeuf, which will be a better judge of his abilities.
What is unique about movies like this one (or “First Man”) is that they are not watched for the destination, the climactic ending that is evident from the synopsis, but for the journey, the touching events leading to that ending. It is this aspect of the film that makes the aforementioned active experience so important to making it as enjoyable as it is.
I can't stress enough how amazing the cinematography is. The viewer really feels like he is at the races. I mean, there was a scene where I literally craned my neck in an attempt to get a better angle of what was going on in the race (which was obviously futile, but you get the point). You feel the anxiety, you feel the thrill, it's amazing. Furthermore, apart from being really heartwarming, the screenplay is also very quirky and entertaining with memorable characters and scenes, making it a fun watch too.
The last thing I want to note about “Ford v Ferrari” is the music score (and soundtrack for that matter). It is not too elaborate or complex, but it complements what's happening in the scene superbly to amplify the emotions being evoked.
“Ford v Ferrari” is without doubt one of my favorite films of this year, and its triumphant and sweet story, coupled with every other good thing about it, is definitely going to make it beloved during award season. It's a feel-good movie that will make you cry and laugh, and make your heart race with emotions as fast as a Ferra...(cough)...Ford.