Verdict: Michael Mann doesn't reinvent the wheel with his conventional Ferrari biopic, but it's an interesting watch regardless.

  • Shailene Woodley,Adam Driver,Jack O'Connell
  • December 29th 2023
  • Michael Mann

Adam Driver plays motoring mogul Enzo Ferrari in Michael Mann’s biographical drama.

Michael Mann has been working on a movie about Italian car magnate Enzo Ferrari for more than 20 years and his passion project has finally come to fruition.

The film, starring Adam Driver as Ferrari, is set in Modena, Italy in 1957, 10 years after Ferrari, a former racing driver, founded his eponymous motor company.

Maserati has just beaten his speed record and Ferrari (the company) is on the brink of financial collapse. To reclaim Ferrari’s title and drive car sales, he enters five of his drivers into the Mille Miglia, an open-road endurance race.

Mann focuses his movie on a short period in Ferrari’s life instead of covering many years and this works well because 1957 was an important year and one of the most challenging times for him.

In addition to his financial problems, Ferrari and his wife Laura (Penelope Cruz) are grieving the loss of their only child, Alfredo ‘Dino’, and Ferrari has been secretly keeping a mistress named Lina Lardi (Shailene Woodley).

By focusing on 1957 instead of retelling Ferrari’s story in broad strokes, Mann achieves a richer insight into the man himself as well as his business and his relationships.

The film successfully combines business disputes with domestic drama and exhilarating racing sequences, and is more compelling in the second half because the Mille Miglia race is so exciting.

Thanks to House of Gucci, we already know that Driver can play an Italian businessman. His Italian accent wasn’t amazing but at least it was consistent and not distracting – unlike Woodley, who seemed to try on different accents throughout. Lina was a refreshingly undemanding mistress but the accent and lack of chemistry with Driver were problematic.

Driver’s performance was understated and subtle while Cruz went very big at times. It was understandable why Laura was angry and sad – she lost a child and has an unfaithful husband – but Cruz’s acting felt very melodramatic.

They were supported by Gabriel Leone, Patrick Dempsey and Jack O’Connell as Ferrari racing drivers Alfonso de Partago, Piero Taruffi and Peter Collins, who were all solid additions to the cast.

Overall, Mann doesn’t reinvent the wheel with his conventional Ferrari biopic, but it’s an interesting watch regardless.

In cinemas on Boxing Day.

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