As we begin to get into the thick of November with both TIFF and NYFF having passed with still AFI to come we are right bang in the middle of awards season. Many films that have an eye on possibly winning something and putting themselves in a great position. This week we have one of those films opening in theaters with Ford V Ferrari.
After pure dominance on the part Enzo and the entire Ferrari team along with pure ineptitude on the part of Ford. Henry Ford (Tracy Letts II) has tasked Shelby Harris (Matt Damon) and Ken Miles (Christian Bale) with the ultimate task to defeat Ferrari. Dealing with corporate interference, the laws of physics and many other outside forces they must do the unthinkable. Defeat Ferrari at the 24 of Le Mans.
With the likes of Logan, Walk The Line and The Wolverine he’s earned more than enough credit with the 20th Century Fox brass even post Disney to allow him to do any project he wants. With that in mind, he chose a quiet interesting American story which he executed brilliantly. Its a terrific job by James Mangold in executing big-screen filmmaking at its best, uses the format to the best of their abilities. The racing sequences are amazing and exhilarating they keep you on the edge of your seat. The placement of the camera during these sequences are exhilarating and suck you into the film. He weaves the comedic elements brilliantly throughout the film and does not ever feel forced; it always comes from natural moments in the film.
The entire ensemble is perfectly cast and used very well in the film. The likes of Jon Berenthal, Josh Lucas, Tracey Letts, Noah Jupe, Ray McKinnon, and Caitriona Balfe. They all have a specific role in the film and play it absolutely beautifully. But this film a Matt Damon and Christian Bale picture in the truest form. With Matt Damon, he commands the screen in the best way possible. His character has a real warmth to him and you really want this person to just be successful.
But yet again this is Bale’s film and he owns it in every way possible. Bale has slimmed down massively from his role in Vice for the role of Ken Miles and he has a lean hungry-looking figure that actually comes across in his performance through his drive and desire. He blends the dry sarcastic humor with heartfelt emotional moments. The scenes where you see the true Ken Miles is when Bale is playing off Jupe and he comes across as authentic.
Overall Mangold crafts a thrill ride that hearkens back to filmmaking in every sense of the word. He and Phedon Papamichael place the camera in the perfect place to raise the exhilarating feeling that the racing scenes give you. A story of two men doing what they love to do both Bale and Damon make it come off as their love of racing is what permeates through.