Ford v Ferrari is one of the best racing films I’ve seen in a very long time. It’s a true underdog story and the film takes the audience on a journey of discovery and being pushed to the very limit.
James Mangold’s direction should not go unnoticed, as his vision of racing and what the track looks like from a driver’s perspective made for interesting framing. Everything within the shot was angled perfectly while driving and the editing, from driver to any other part of the car, made it for an exciting ride. The Director of Photography, Phedon Papamichael, made such beautiful compositions and the vibrant colours throughout the film made it so much richer. Every aspect of this film hit the mark but the one thing I noticed above all else was Marco Beltrami’s whomping score that accompanied each scene. Beltrami’s score fluctuated as races went on and even listening to it separately, will bring you back to the track at Le Mans ’66.
The heart of this film is Christian Bale’s portrayal of Ken Miles. He was a laidback, rugged and sometimes hot headed mechanic, who loved to race cars. Bale gave an excellent performance and the reason why he was the heart of this film, was because of how much passion he brought to the character. This film shows how important having passion for your work can be, especially when pushing the pedal to the limit and surpassing your own goals. It doesn’t matter what people think of you and in Miles’ case, the suits at Ford didn’t appreciate his “beatnik” nature and didn’t think he was suited to be a “Ford Driver”. Miles knew he was the man for the job because he could feel the car, the track and the engine vibrate through him, in order to get the job done. Bale radiated confidence, love and knowledge for racing and it was fantastic work.
Ken Miles couldn’t achieve this feat without his partner in crime and close friend Carroll Shelby, played wonderfully by Matt Damon. Damon truly hasn’t been this in tuned with a character since Good Will Hunting and his closed off nature as Shelby, unfolded nicely in the final act. Damon was reserved and had a more internalized role, but always managed to have a soft spot for his buddy Miles because he believed in him. It always takes that one person to believe in the other to make them get to where they need to be. Damon and Bale had wonderful chemistry and the friendship was effortless on screen.
To round out the cast, Caitriona Balfe as Mollie Miles was wonderful and I loved that she was the female counterpart to her husband. There’s one scene where she’s driving while talking to Ken and it’s such a strong exchange between the both of them. The rising star, Noah Jupe, who has stolen my heart this year was wonderful as Peter Miles. The father/son relationship between Bale and Jupe was so heartwarming and the passion for racing was definitely passed down.
Ford v Ferrari is definitive magic on the race track and no one has done it like James Mangold. It shows the history of car manufacturing and the many trials the Ford plant had to go through before perfecting their own brand. It also shows how far we’ve come as a society and then many different companies that have tried to create a brand.