by Victoria Alexander
Cruz is sensational but Driver is a moody, difficult man without any friends. Here, he is a middle-class Italian who didn’t like fame or money, only winning races.
I attended a special screening of FERRARI at Wynn Hotel & Casino on Friday afternoon, the day before the Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix. The F1 opening ceremony was held on Wednesday with practice sessions held on Thursday and Friday nights. Max Verstappen, riding with Red Bull Racing, the three-time reigning F1 champion, ridiculed the extravagance saying that he was not a fan of the over-the-top entertainment elements that was added to race.
“I think it is 99 percent show, 1 percent sporting event.” Verstappen said he looked “like a clown” standing on the stage at the opening ceremony and criticized the multiple off-track events, big-name music acts, Strip performers and ultra-VIP spaces.
The first practice on Thursday night was a disaster when after just nine minutes into the session, Carlos Sainz Jr. ran over a water valve cover that badly damaged his Ferrari. Verstappen, 26, said he “would tear the whole place down” if he was among the fans denied a refund after seeing just nine minutes of on-track action Thursday. Spectators were kicked out of the circuit after the second practice session was delayed by 2 1/2 hours due to track inspections and repairs.
“I love Vegas, but not to drive a F1 car; to go out, throw everything on red, whatever. But the emotion and passion is not there compared to some old-school tracks.”
During the race, Verstappen was given a five-second penalty for forcing Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc off the track. After winning the Las Vegas Grand Prix, which became his 18th win of the season, Verstappen amended his harsh evaluation of the four day’s festivities. No doubt his management team and Red Ball Racing were horrified by his unsportsmanlike criticism of the $500 million event. The Verstappen Brand took a hit. Ferrari’s Leclerc took second place in the Grand Prix.
For months Las Vegas residents were tortured by the construction. Transportation anywhere around the track was agonizing. Locals stayed away from the Strip. Will Las Vegas residents see any benefits from the F1 Las Vegas race? Tourists suffered getting to their hotels.
Current male movie stars – of a particular status – seem to have a rough time with the cinematic demands of “leading man roles.” They are famous and wealthy. How dare we expect them to stop months of yacht holidays for a starvation diet and a strict regimen of steroids and grueling workouts twice a day?
Russell Crowe must have worked heroically to force his body to achieve his GLADIATOR physique. That was the last time he cared how he looked in movies. He only plays fat roles now.
Photo of Patrick Dempsey, who plays a race car driver, introducing FERRARI.
This is the second Adam Driver mature role. For Noah Baumbach’s WHITE NOISE, Driver was demonstrably out-of-shape, with rough hair and an anti-handsome exhaustion. In FERRARI, Driver is ultra-stoic, unemotional and aged 20 years. Once again, he has the weight of a mature, successful man.
Enzo Ferrari (Adam Driver) had an early successful career as a race car driver. He retired from competitive driving having participated in 41 Grands Prix with a record of 11 wins. In 1932, following the birth of his son Dino, Ferrari retired. He starts his own company selling sports car that finance his Ferrari racing car team. Michael Mann’s film primarily takes place in 1957, when Ferrari is 59 years old, famous and successful. But he lives a quiet, middle-class life. He is a quiet man with a fiery wife, Laura (Penelope Cruz), who is still mourning the death of Dino who died at age 24 of muscular dystrophy. She blames Ferrari. Laura does not care Ferrari has frequent lovers, but when she finds out he has another family, she wants blood.
Enzo’s mistress Lina Lardi (Shailene Woolley) seems to rarely be out of her bathrobe. Enzo’s second home is modest. He does the dishes. They have a 12-year-old son, Piero, who will soon have his Catholic Rite of Confirmation. Lina gently asks Enzo if he will acknowledge Piero as his son and give him the Ferrari name. Enzo, at home with Lina and Piero, is a subdued, simple Italian husband.
In 1961, Ferrari faced a full-on revolt inside his company. Some of Enzo’s highest-ranking managers left the company in a dispute over how much of a role his wife, Laura, should have in the company. This included guys that managed all sales, ran the race team, engineered the cars, and developed prototypes.
The cinematic lives of real, famous people require a portrayal by a movie star. So how do you capture the cruel selfish life of your subject without alienating the audience against your star? How to conquer this is to show that no matter how awful your subject, he never enjoyed the game, the money, the glory. If your subject must be selfish and driven, show him suffering in these decisions.
Enzo Ferrari famously stated, “I am an agitator of men.”
All Enzo wanted to do is race cars and win. In real life, Enzo was a bastard. Where is the titan of ruthlessness? Wasn’t Enzo known as pushing his drivers beyond their car’s abilities? He was never satisfied. His offensive, demanding management style was already well known. He encouraged rivalry among his drivers, dangling the favored pole position. It was a competition for his drivers to win – even before the race. Enzo used pressure, jealousy, and used the races as battles.
Ferrari’s demand to push the cars to unrealistic speeds, had his drivers writing letters just in case they die during the race.
Leonardo DiCaprio is currently choosing film roles that require an “everyman” physique. He is in his anti-sexy period with DON’T LOOK UP and KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON. DiCaprio’s 2013 Jordan Belfort role was the last time he delivered a dazzling, sexy role.
Charlize Theron recently said she has finished playing fat roles. For MONSTER, Theron gained 30 pounds and a well-deserved Best Actress Academy Award. She said she gained 50 pounds for TULLY. “I will never, ever do a movie again and say, ‘Yeah, I’ll gain 40 pounds.’ I will never do it again because you can’t take it off.”
The real, but extremely strange 1957 Mille Miglia race is the centerpiece of FERRARI. The race, through 1,500-kilometers of Italian roads, had Ferrari’s driver traveling at 250 km/h. The path was well-known and had spectators along the way. Director Michael Mann and screenwriter, Troy Kennedy Martin, blame the horrific crash not on the driver losing control of the car. There was an object obviously in the middle of the road. No one moved it out of the way and the driver blew a tire running over it and crashed into the roadside crowd. The driver and ten spectators, including five children, died.
“What's behind you doesn't matter." Enzo Ferrari
My brief research never mentioned an obstacle in the road: Less than 40 miles from the finish in Brescia, Ferrari’s driver’s front tire exploded. He lost control of the car; hit a telephone pole, jumped over a brook, hitting several spectators. The Ferrari then bounced back on the road, hitting more spectators, slid over the road, spinning, and ended up, wheels down, in a brook at the other side of the road. Besides the driver, his American navigator, ten spectators – among them five children – lost their lives. A further 20 were injured. The driver’s body was found near the car, severed in half.
The name Ferrari is a world-renowned Italian brand. Enzo Ferrari had one mission and he succeeded. His presence still is a symbol. Even though FERRARI showed all the obstacles Enzo Ferrari had to overcome, he was a moody, difficult man. Not even a winning race made him happy. It was a means to his end.
Playing a joyless man is not easy and Adam Driver can only hold the film’s center by denying his character has any pleasure in life. He was just driven by ambition.
Michael Mann is a legendary filmmaker, yet he could not find an adversary worthy to set against Ferrari. That is the flaw in a wonderful production and a terrific, award winning performance by Cruz.
The ALL is Mind; The Universe is Mental.”
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