Shadow
Ferrari
Michael Mann’s biography of Enzo Ferrari sees the fast cars get over-shadowed by soap opera drama and bad Italian accents.

Ferrari

Release Date: December 25, 2023
Runtime: 02:10
Synopsis:
Set in the summer of 1957, with Enzo Ferrari’s auto empire in crisis, the ex-racer turned entrepreneur pushes himself and his drivers to the edge as they launch into the Mille Miglia, a treacherous 1,000-mile race across Italy.
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The future of the S.p.A. sportscar manufacturer depends on the results of a treacherous 1000-mile race in Ferrari. In 1957, Enzo Ferrari () is preparing his team, including drivers Alfonso de Portago () and Piero Taruffi (), to race in the 1000-mile-long Mille Miglia. In the lead-up to the race, Enzo faces a crisis in both his professional and personal life, as his company Ferrari S.p.A faces major financial hardships and his wife Laura () learns of a child Enzo had with his mistress Lina Lardi ().

Ferrari Synopsis

Ferrari is a biographical sports drama directed by Michael Mann (Miami Vice, Public Enemies), based on the 1991 biography Enzo Ferrari: The Man, the Cars, the Races, the Machine by Brock Yates. The film stars Adam Driver, reusing his put-upon Italian accent from House of Gucci, as former racecar driver, turned sportscar manufacturer Enzo Ferarri. During the film's 1957 setting, Enzo finds himself in both professional and personal turmoil. The recent death of his first-born son Dino has solidified his estrangement from his wife Laura, played with fiery rage by Penélope Cruz, who happens to have a stake in Ferrari S.p.A., which is undergoing a financial crisis. Enzo bets the future of his company on the outcome of Mille Miglia, which includes bringing on board a hotshot Spanish driver Alfonso de Portago, who often brings along his actress girlfriend Linda Christian ().

My Thoughts on Ferrari

Ferrari marks Michael Mann's first film in eight years and is based on the final screenplay by writer Troy Kennedy Martin (The Italian Job), who passed away in 2009. As is the case with many recent biopics, Ferrari is less about the full life of Enzo Ferrari and more about a single pivotal event in the summer of 1957.

On the surface, Ferrari is positioned as a racing film, possibly as a defacto prequel to James Mangold's Oscar-nominated 2019 film Ford v Ferrari. However, the Mille Miglia only takes place in the final act of the film and the rest of the film is dominated by the soap opera drama of Enzo Ferrari's personal life, particularly the rage of his wife Laura after she finds out he had a son with another woman. That's cringy on its own, but the fact that every character in the film is using a fake Italian accent results in much eye-rolling.

SPOILERS Ahead

In addition to the soap opera drama, Michael Mann decides to make one of the climactic moments of Ferrari the fatal car crash of Alfonso de Portago, which also resulted in the death of nine civilians. Not only is the crash very obviously depicted with CGI, seamlessly mowing through a crowd of onlookers, but Mann ends up lingering on the gory aftermath, which includes severed limbs and dead children. While the crash itself is important to the plot and the ending of the film, it is quite gratuitous for Michael Mann to linger on the carnage.

The casting for Ferrari is all over the place, with Americans Adam Driver, Shailene Woodley, and Patrick Dempsey and Spanish actor Penélope Cruz all playing Italians, with accents ranging from completely over-the-top, in the case of Driver, to barely there at all, in the case of Woodley. The mixing of nationalities continues with Brazilian actor Gabriel Leone playing Spanish driver Alfonso de Portago and Canadian Sarah Gadon (Black Bear, Enemy) as Mexican actress Linda Christian. However, Gadon is only in the film as eye candy, barely having any lines and only appearing in around four or five scenes, one of which is a sex scene. In fact, all the female characters in Ferrari end up getting the short shift, except for perhaps Penélope Cruz as Laura, though she too comes off cartoonish in her vitriol towards Enzo.

With Ferrari only being his second film in the last fifteen years, it is clear that Michael Mann has been slowing down in his latter career. While the direction of Ferrari can be appreciated from a technical standpoint, a film about fast cars ends up being greatly overshadowed by its soap opera drama and bad Italian accents.

Trailer for Ferrari

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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