Most of the time, trailers mislead the audience and give away too much. As is the case with the “Ford v Ferrari” trailers.
I am a firm believer that the trailer is one of the most important pieces of a movie. It is incredibly difficult to strike the perfect balance between showing the audience enough to pique their interest but not so much that you spoil the movie. Another difficulty is accurately conveying the movie’s tone.
Generally, I refuse to watch trailers because they often spell out the movie so deliberately that to see it would be a waste of $10 and two hours.
From the trailers, it would be fair to assume “Ford v Ferrari’s” central focus is around the 1966 Le Mans race, and the production of Ford’s GT40 race car leading up to it.
While this certainly is a focal point of the movie, at its core “Ford v Ferrari” is about the relationship between Ken Miles and Carroll Shelby.
Christian Bale plays Ken Miles and finally gets to use his native English tongue. Miles is a WWII veteran desperate to provide for his family. He also happens to be a savant when it comes to cars and can drive them better than anyone. His level of obsession with cars reminded me of his role in “The Big Short,” where he plays an obsessive Wall Street guru.
What surprised me most about this role was how funny Bale is. Much of the comedy comes from his character ranting inside the car. He is also quite hotheaded and not afraid to voice his opinion to anyone, which leads to some hilarious moments. This, no doubt, is Bale’s funniest role to date.
Matt Damon plays ex-Le Mans champion and legendary car manufacturer Carroll Shelby. Shelby is a confident smooth talker who knows more about cars than anyone, save for Ken Miles. It is also clear early on he is a savvy businessman in his dealings with Ford Motor Company.
Shelby cannot race anymore so it is only natural Miles steps in as the driver while he focuses on the developing the car. It is clear, however, that while Shelby’s focus is on dealing with Ford Motor Company, his heart remains in the driver seat on the racetrack.
Miles and Shelby form a tight bond because of their mutual love of cars. Throughout the film, I could not help but think of the two as brothers. Their banter and fighting reminded me of my relationship with my brother. I did not expect the movie to focus on their relationship so heavily, but I am glad it did. I almost wish there were more scenes of the two together.
The relationships go beyond Shelby and Miles too. Whenever Miles isn’t in a car, he is usually with his wife and son. Miles’ relationship with his wife is so sweet. They had great on-screen chemistry. There is a hilarious scene where the roles are reversed and his wife — Mollie Miles played by Caitriona Balfe — is behind the wheel.
Perhaps the most endearing relationship in the film is between Miles and his son Peter, played by Noah Jupe. Peter is a young version of his dad. He worships his father, going to every race, helping him fix cars, and drawing the racetracks. Besides the scenes with Shelby and Miles, my favorite parts were when it was just Miles and his son.
“Ford v Ferrari” was probably my favorite movie of the year in terms of the relationships between characters. Let me be clear, the movie is not devoid of spectacular racing sequences. Every time Miles is in the car my eyes were glued to the screen. It was incredible to watch. The movie really gives you an idea of how extraordinary these machines are and how much nuance goes into producing them.
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While I really enjoyed the movie, there were a few problems I had with it. With a movie like this there is so much information, to include it all would be impossible. My main problem was the frequent time jumps. They occur quite often, and sometimes it is difficult to pick out where in time it is taking place. I wish the creators had done a better job of distinguishing the differences in time.
Additionally, characters at Ford Motor Company are portrayed as being comically horrible people. I am not sure how true this is to the real people, but while watching, it was a bit distracting. Leo Beebe, a Vice President at Ford, has a grudge against Miles from the beginning that continues throughout the film. I never understood why he despised Miles so much but it seemed like it was added without much basis merely for cinematic effect. Beebe was so whiny and pompous it was hard to watch at times. The portrayal of Henry Ford II was also caricature-like and over the top, and it did not fit the tone of the rest of the movie.
My last critique is a small one, but one I cannot shake. Miles makes a decision at the end of the movie’s big race that did not feel true to the character. I understand this is a historical film, but I was frustrated by his decision. I soon forgot about this because the last few minutes, in my opinion, were the best bit of the movie. There is no dialogue, it is just a medium close-up of Carroll Shelby, but it was genuinely moving.
“Ford v Ferrari” is not the movie it is advertised as, but I think it is better as a result. Audiences seem to think so too, as it has a 98% audience rating on rotten tomatoes, which is quite rare. This movie has something for everyone. I highly recommend seeing it while it is still in theaters — you will not be disappointed.