I’ll be the first to admit that I know nothing about Formula 1, and I haven’t watched a full race in my life. So when I heard there was a movie about F1 racing, my interest wasn’t really piqued. But as the reviews started coming out, the early buzz was that this film was something special, a bit more than the typical fare associated with these kinds of shows.
The film revolves around the rivalry between James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), two individuals whose personas were polar opposites, both on and off the track. Following both drivers in their rise from the lowly ranks of Formula 3 up to the coveted F1 spots; the audience is shown the start of the bitter feud that drove both men, often to their benefit, to its culmination some 6 years later at the 1976 Grand Prix.
While F1 provides the framework for the movie, the real driving force (pardon the pun) comes when the movie is off the track. The well written dialogue and snappy, tight direction keeps the film flowing, giving an insight into each of the men’s’ personal lives, their way of thinking and the effect they have on the people around them, making the movie seem more of a history drama than another petrol fuelled romp.
As Hunt, Chris Hemsworth plays the Brit as a cocky, brash young man whose charm and flair makes him easily liked by both sexes, but his relationships are mostly superficial as shown by the carousel of women that flitter in and out of Hunt’s life. His devil may care attitude is transferred onto the race-track, often risking life and limb to win the race. Daniel Bruhl, on the other hand, is cold and calculating, a disciplined driver whose straight-forward and to the point approach made him almost universally disliked by those around him.
The love interests in this movie, Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde), and Marlene Knaus (Alexandra Maria Lara), further emphasises the vastly different viewpoints of the two men. Hunt marries Miller but their marriage is only a shell, leading to infidelity and ultimately divorce. Knaus’ interactions with Lauda starts off cold as she is initially not at all impressed by the introverted Lauda, but quickly grows to love the man, and sticks with him through thick and thin.
But this is ultimately a movie about Hunt and Lauda, and the trials and tribulations they both face. It makes you question which of the two really have the more fulfilling life, and I was genuinely surprised at the amount of emotion that the film managed to evoke from me. The last thing I expected was to get teary eyed in a F1 movie.
But this movie is more than just a character study. The cinematography is breath-taking, with cameras strapped into the driver helmets, the cockpit, the silencer, the motor itself, to show us the smallest detail of the races. This up close and personal approach pulls the audience into the driver’s seat, and one can almost smell the oil and fumes. It also really accentuates the danger experienced by the drivers and puts the audience face to face with the exhilaration and adrenaline of being a Formula 1 driver.
Even if you don’t like racing, I would recommend you check Rush out. It is a finely crafted film that brings out the best of all involved and it’s definitely worth your while.
I give Rush an 8 out of 10.