I’m home at last, and Gail had a surprise for me tonight–said to be ready to go out at 5:45 and wouldn’t tell me where.
I’m a lucky guy–she took me to the movies, to see Rush, the new Ron Howard film about Formula 1 racing and the legendary rivalry of Jim Hunt and Niki Lauda. It was, if not great, then pretty damned good.
The story is classic–a monumentally talented but morally vapid playboy, James Hunt, competes against a driven, straight-laced, moralistic Niki Lauda in a duel to the death, or close enough.
Hunt is portrayed by Chris Hemsworth, who Gail describes as a cross between James Dean and Brad Pitt, if Pitt was better looking. Daniel Brühl isn’t as pretty–and neither was his character, Niki Lauda, described often as looking like a rat with buck teeth, small eyes and a pointy nose. And that’s when he was good looking…….
Director Ron Howard takes this true story and makes it wondrously visual–Rush will be up for Academy Awards in cinematography and lighting, I should think. He uses those visuals to tell a compelling story which grips you completely even though it is entirely predictable. The story is so old it would be corny and trite if it weren’t true, but it is true and you get quite caught up in it.
I’m a Formula 1 fan, so I’m predisposed to like this, but I don’t think it matters. This movie is an age old morality play, and you’ll like it even if you’re like Micky and don’t think racing is a sport. He thinks golf is a sport, for some reason.
The 1970’s era racing cars are a treat to watch, and the driving is spectacular. Seeing everyone in their bright polyesters, long hair and big mustaches is amusing, but the cars still look wonderful.
Olivia Wilde costars as Suzy Miller, Hunt’s wife, and is breathtakingly beautiful, while Alexandra Maria Lara, as Marlene Lauda is more classically cosmpolitan and mature.
None of the reviews I have read of Rush even mention the great 1966 epic, Grand Prix, which is described as millions of dollars of star power and a nickels worth of plot–but the photography is stunning and the racing scenes, made without stedicams, CGI, computer controller camera mounts or any of the modern wonders, will still take your breath away. Grand Prix manages an perfect score of 100 on the tomatometer while Rush comes home at a very respectable 87. The opening sequence of Rush even includes, it seemed to me, a tiny homage to Grand Prix, one I had been hoping for.
Ron Howard may well be nominated for Best Director yet again, the movie is that good. Chris Hemsworth is the pretty boy here, but the acting awards will go to Brühl for his performance of the driven, dogged Lauda.
Go see Rush, then watch Grand Prix on Netflix. Then tell me that racing isn’t a sport.