Speed and ambition personified in “Ferrari”

Published 12:56 pm Tuesday, January 23, 2024

This week at Tryon Theatre a sleek and gripping film, “Ferrari,” races across the screen. This film’s composition mirrors that of its titular car, with beautiful cinematography and surgical editing. 

Michael Mann directs this film with a steady hand and an excellent eye for detail that has defined his entire filmography. This film, like many of Mann’s others, is a period piece. It’s set in 1957, the summer in which the company’s founder, Enzo Ferrari, prepares to compete in the Mille Miglia, a thousand-mile race across Italy. 

With Enzo as the film’s protagonist, the title is equally about the individual as it is about the car. Playing this historical figure is Adam Driver, lending his impeccable acting talents to yet another famous Italian businessman, having recently played Maurizio Gucci in the acclaimed “House of Gucci” (Scott 2021). Driver, in playing Enzo, has captured the intense mania of a man whose passion far outweighed his planning. 

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The film finds Enzo at a crossroads, both personally and professionally, as the stakes of his family name, and his company, are put on the line. At this point in 1957, Enzo is estranged from his wife, Laura, who also owns half of his company’s shares, an ownership that could mean the success or failure of his dream. Playing this woman with all the cards is the magnetically brilliant Penelope Cruz, in what is being heralded as one of her best performances. 

The interpersonal dynamic between Laura and Enzo is not only the element upon which the plot hinges, but is also the emotional throughline of the film. The navigation of their deeply conflicted marriage provides for the film’s greatest tension, and its greatest acting, with Driver and Cruz inhabiting a painful realism to their marital strife, both devastating and complex. These dialogue-driven scenes are only heightened by the intensity of the film’s race scenes, with each squeal of rubber and burst of ignition registering in the viewer’s chest. For such authentically composed action scenes to pale in comparison to the intensity of the film’s emotional scenes is a massive credit to the acting.

For those audience members seeking a compelling story of competition, they will have their appetites for adrenaline sated. Those in pursuit of a deeper and more emotionally complex narrative will also find themselves engaged with this film, as “Ferrari,” much like the machine in question, combines technical expertise with emotionally satisfying artistry. We hope that you will join us for a thrilling ride!