Thursday, 30 July 2015

Rush (2013)

I have zero interest in motor sports.  Watching cars (or motorcycles, or boats) go round and round the same track eight thousand times, a process which appears to take roughly forty seven hours, bores me silly.

Fortunately, Rush is not a motor sports movie.  Sure, there is lots of footage of cars hurtling around race tracks, but the narrative weight of the film rests entirely on the characters, motivations and rivalries of the men driving them.  In particular, of Niki Lauder and James Hunt, two diametrically different personalities who would battle over the 1976 Formula 1 driver's championship.

Lauder was the reigning world champion: a methodical, exacting Austrian who was widely perceived as being cold and aloof.  Hunt was a brash British driver, renowned as much for his hard drinking and hard partying ways as for his aggression on the track.  In 1975, Hunt had raced for one of the smaller teams; this year, he would be racing for McLaren, perhaps the only team with a car that matched the quality of Lauda's Ferrari.

Obviously, the competition between the two men is the main narrative of the film, but the script sensibly focuses less on the details of their on-the-track tussles (only two key races are covered in any detail) and more on the men themselves: their motivations for choosing this dangerous profession, their desire to win, and the clash of their very different personalities.  Of course in the manner of many biopics it plays a bit fast and loose with the details in order to create a more coherent narrative arc, but it's far less guilty of such shenanigans than say, Gladiator or a host of other "historical" films.

Powerful performances of complexly-drawn characters are at the heart of this film, and really make it shine as an example of movie-making.  The film shows the good and bad of both men - allowing neither to become a cardboard hero or villain - and manages to celebrate triumphs for both of them, even if only one of them can ultimately win the championship.

This one is worth your time, even if you care as little about motor sports as I do.

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