Sunday, 15 September 2013

Rush - Review

Directed by: Ron Howard
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Christian McKay
Written by: Peter Morgan

Rating: 9/10

Rush is a roaring, spinning triumph of a film. Ron Howard has taken the already high stakes story of the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda from the perilous world of 1970's F1 racing - and turned the dial up to 11. The brilliance of this film other than the crystal clear direction comes two-fold; the leads are ingeniously believable as well as mesmerising, and the cinematography is a visual treat. It's a film that capitalises on the reasons that most people got behind the sport; the danger, the passion and the bitter rivalries. There's no single one character to root for - the film is as divisive as the leads. 

Rush is the story of this world enveloping rivalry brought to the screen. Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) is the over-the-top Brit with such a joy for life and passion that he is the textbook definition of a 'hot-head'. He attends all the clubs, sleeps with different women, constantly shown drinking and showing hints of vulnerability - but doing nothing by half measures. Lauda (Daniel Brühl) is the other end of this spectrum - clinical, precise and routine. However, the same full-throttle approach to life and attitude to dealing with others pervades his personality - setting both for a crash course. Niki expects all from himself - he has to buy his own way into the world, but once his foot is in the door, he doesn't relent. He likes being in total control of every aspect of his 'drive' - he refers to himself as 'rat-faced' and thinks himself unlikeable, but that 'doesn't matter' to him. Hunt is envious of the brains of Lauda, but is supremely confident every time they lock horns that he could beat him in a race - it is this enduring trait that Lauda respects in him. 

The story starts out with their initial risings in lower divisions of the sport with Lauda racing for other teams, while Hunt is backed by the exuberant Lord Hesketh (Christian McKay). The story follows them all the way up to tragic events later in the season - as well as the final showdown. 

They are accompanied by their stunning wives, who equally complement their personalities - Olivia Wilde plays Suzy - a wildly impassioned model whose precarious attitude suits Hunt, while Alexandra Maria Lara plays Marlene Kraus, the down-to-earth but equally beautiful partner of Lauda. 

Every time they get into their cars - despite the race sequences, individually not accompanying much of the screen's 122 minutes - is exhilarating. Every race, every confrontation - every argument is showstopping. There's quite a lot of spectacle and pomp on display - which is representative of the inner state of the two men. They both share similar weaknesses and they both envy the other, in some way. It's a brilliant dramatisation of their story because Howard and Morgan try to get at what truly pushes someone to become great, to have this unending ambition to win. 

Morgan's screenplay doesn't feel as well developed as some of his other works, namely Frost/Nixon, lacking some of the verve of scripts from The Queen and The Deal. Morgan seems to enjoy depicting complex relationships though - this rivalry is depicted in such a thrilling fashion that the lack of gravitas that his previous works have carried is almost unnoticeable. Both Hunt and Lauda are polarising on screen, as they were in life - the film will split the audience. That 1976 run left a lot of questions about the 'true' winner of that season - something that the film carries across extremely well. 

Zimmer brings his usual excellence to the score - making the soundtrack just as rousing and combative as the two leads. Cinematography, by Anthony Dod Mantle, is a pure nirvana as usual - his last outings (Slumdog Millionaire, Trance, 127 Hours, The Last King of Scotland) were all similarly brilliant. Dod Mantle has a unique eye and his work will envelop the entire experience. 

Hunt left F1 soon after the 1976 season and went onto other pursuits to just enjoy his life - something which Lauda laments about later. Lauda carries on with his discplined and structured approach, winning more races but retiring not too long after Hunt as well. But we can't help but feel a sense of longing for something else - something more. Lauda says that to have an enemy, especially one like Hunt, is a blessing. Once Hunt leaves, a large part of Lauda goes with him. That championship race of the season seemed to define the lives of both men in every shape and form.

As the Hunt elegantly puts it; F1 is just a bunch of men, 'racing round and round in circles'. In the end, it's impossible to say whether Lauda or Hunt walked away the better from their match ups, but one thing is for certain;

Howard leaves that choice up to you.

What the Mr. Thought:

I'll keep it brief - go see this film. Even if you're not an F1 fan, this is a film that is well worth watching. I implore you - go see it. It's not your typical sports biopic film - and it's all the better for it. 

What the Misses Thought:

There was one thing that I didn't like about the film, so I'm going to get that out of the way first.
The pace was very much off. When it was at its highs, it was high but then it slowed down and seemed to drag slightly.
However overall, Rush, was brilliantly acted (so subtle and full of emotion) and the best part...the cinematography. Stunning colour, feel and angles, are what made this film just right. Shame about the pace, but the rest of the elements certainly make up for it.

But you didn't hear any of that from us!


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