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"Le Mans '66" - Ford vs Ferrari - Film Review

by Emilia Ippolito

This is high quality rendition and factual account of a historical rivalry between two major car producers : Ford and Ferrari.

The story follows two of its protagonists: American racing driver and racing car manufacturer Carroll Shelby (an excellent Matt Demon) and British motor lover turned into racing driver Ken Miles ( an absolutely fantastic Chris Bale). It explores both men’s dreams and passions, their professional profile and their friendship, all playing along and against ‘higher’ logics of very high scale commercial and financial interests; the latter, no need to say, are related to two historic figures of our cultural, commercial and financial past and present : Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari

We see how the two men - aware of each other - connect and become, in spite of deep social and cultural differences, excellent business partners and simply good friends

The film builds up for about 90 minutes to the grand finale with a double twist : the historical 1966 race in Le Mans, which saw the American mass car producer Ford conquer second place at the French competition, thanks to a top class racing car - Shelby Daytona - built by Shelby and driven by Miles

Of course the narrative shows how Ford and Ferrari exacerbated their own irreconcilable differences - also due to the gigantic personalities of Henry II and Enzo. The latter, facing a serious financial crisis, played with Ford for a while, pretending to be interested in a partnership of sorts, and finally ended up closing a deal for part of his racing shares with Gianni Agnelli owner of mass producer Fiat. At a higher price, naturally.

Ferrari’s character loses his mordent due to the choice of the actor : Remo Girone, originally from Eritrea and used to standard mafia roles, doesn’t match either the actual Enzo Ferrari or his well known Modena accent. That is an unfortunate casting choice.

That aside, the rest of the cast directed by James Mangold does an excellent job: Caitriona Balfe, known to British and international audience in her protagonist role (Clare Fraser) in the Starz TV series Outlander as Molly Miles - Ken’s loyal wife, Tracy Letts as John Ford II, Jon Bernthal as Lee Iacocca and Josh Lucas as Leo Beebe : both pivotal in Ford’s racing entourage

The long race scenes are long and breathtaking, duly infused with adrenaline shots to keep tension up, the script is both Detroit and California authentic : a charming and humorous film with a few unexpected twists- for the ones who are not familiar with the true story.

Car racing aficionados or not, this excellent movie will leave you wishing to know more about the car / racing business and to see both acting icons Chris Bale and Matt Damon very soon again on our big screens: enjoy!


Film Credits:

Dir James Mangold
Prod Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, James Mangold
Scr Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, Jason Keller, James Mangold
With Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe, Tracy Letts

About Emilia Ippolito