Rush is a 2013 drama not reserved for petrolheads only
Making a good F1 documentary has always posed a great challenge, let alone squeezing lives of not one, but two of the greatest drivers of the era in a two hour long movie which essentially deals with millions of dollars on wheels racing around tracks that have changed a lot in the past four decades. However, Ron Howard, an experienced actor and biopic director, has managed to do it with ease. Put against all odds, he transferred Peter Morgan’s screenplay to film, in an accurate portrayal of the events surrounding the grim but exciting 1976 Formula One season.
Although quite free in terms of portraying James Hunt’s and Niki Lauda’s rivalry and relationship, Ron Howard’s 2013 movie Rush has revived the events of the 1976 season in great historical and technical accuracy. The movie opens with the start of the race that almost cost Niki Lauda his life, and uses the takeoff as the pivotal point, immediately taking us to 1970 and drivers’ Formula 3 days. Being deliberately inaccurate for the story’s sake, the first half of the movie offers us a brief insight into the careers and life-defining events of both drivers, namely Hunt’s days with Lord Hesketh and efforts to hold onto his place in Formula One, his failed marriage with Suzy Miller and Lauda’s brave decision to take out a loan and buy himself a place in the big league. Halfway through the film, Ron Howard transports us back to the Nürburgring, and the race that could have changed Formula One as we know it today.
From that exact point, it’s Dainel Brühl who grabs the spotlight as badly hurt Lauda in a great struggle resulting in his heroic return to the racetracks. Analyzing the archive footage, it’s easy to realize that his performance was truly impeccable, which was personally confirmed by Niki Lauda himself with the words: “Shit! That’s really me!”, an honest reaction that should serve as the biggest compliment to Brühl’s acting in this demanding role. Although not big, Alexandra Maria Lada’s role of Lauda’s then-wife Marlene was executed with great precision, as well as Pierfrancesco Favino’s portrayal of Clay Regazzoni, his teammate at Ferrari.
In the other pit, there’s Chris Hemsworth, presented with the difficult task of portraying James Hunt as more than just a rockstar loved by the media, but a hero in his own right and a man who had his own issues outside of the spotlight. One scene in particular serves as the proof of his success, and that is Hunt’s fictional reaction to a real shameful question by the journalist asking Lauda about his sex life after the crash that left his face badly burned. As his friends and family have told the press, the aftermath of the press conference didn’t happen, but it was true to Hunt’s character and reflected the true nature of their media-fueled rivalry. Olivia Wilde shines as beautiful Suzy Miller, Hunt’s first wife, so do Christian McKay as Lord Hesketh and Alistair Petrie as the racing legend and then-reporter Sir Stirling Moss.
Video : The rivalry of Niki Lauda and James Hunt portrayed in the movie Rush
A synthesis of archive footage, CGI and live-action film proved to be the best solution for recreating the long gone days of Formula One. With great help of collectors, Ron Howard managed to put his stars in actual Formula One cars. Visually stunning, and impeccable in terms of recreating the scenery, atmosphere and on-track adrenaline, Rush is an eye candy as much as it is a romanticized but legitimate biopic. As every movie has a flaw, in case of Rush, it’s the length. Watching the movie, I could just feel the need for another thirty minutes devoted to Hunt’s and Lauda’s actual off-track friendship, especially in their Formula 2 days. To sum it all up, Rush is probably the best executed racing movie since Steve Mcqueen’s Le Mans. The acting of Daniel Bruhl and Chris Hemsworth is truly spot on. And on top of all, the biographical aspect proves it is not a petrolhead-exclusive, but a sports drama that can be enjoyed for everyone, and that’s what makes the film so genuinely beautiful.