In one particularly poignant exchange, Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) confesses to James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) that; “a wise man can learn more from his enemies than a fool from his friends.” It’s that kind of warrior competitive nature that amplifies real life sporting drama into the annals of popular culture. Rush takes you behind the scenes of the now mythical Formula One rivalry between Hunt and Lauda.
Ron Howard is a wonderful director because although there may be thematic similarities between his films stylistically he’s fluid. The entire look of Rush is new territory for Howard and the beautiful blue filtered cold or the weary grey of the glare from tarmac and ball-tearing sound design making you feel like you’re in the pits alongside those 70s high octane engines. The stark reality of F1 racing is the statistic that Lauda chides his colleagues with; every driver has a 20per cent chance that they’ll die. Howard doesn’t pull any punches showing the gruesome reality of that statistic’s validity.
Hemsworth’s Hunt is a nihilistic joy. Besides the fact that he’s possibly one of the most beautiful and well put together humans on the face of the earth, watching him use his sexuality as a skill – so to speak – is a treat. Unfortunately, the charming sex fiend does get a tad one note. Bruhl gets “Lauda” on Lauda and is meticulous in constructing the myopic, unglamorous racing professional. However much like their real life counterparts their performances elevate substantially as they’re interacting. Whether verbal parrying trackside at the Formula Three, across their peers in race meetings or simply in beautifully composed exchanging glances in the seconds before they race; there’s a fiercely opposed philosophy (risk = Hunt/ precision = Lauda) but utmost respect.
Lauda’s wife Marlene (Alexandra Maria Lara) is the prism through which you see the tortured ‘inner’ Lauda . Happiness, contentment; these are concepts antithetical to Lauda’s Spartan ideology. Seeing her compromise and unflinching commitment to his pursuits is admirable. The other characters are as inconsequential as the fleeting blur of advertising in a race driver’s periphery. They’re there to fill in those layers of authenticity but don’t really give anything to the film.
Screenwriter Peter Morgan lets Rush gets distracted with filling out act one with the backstory and road to rivalry; but once we arrive at key season and see the sacrifices that these men will go to attain their version of glory, it’s a rousing experience.
Rush will find your inner petrol head as you’re faced with the reality that there’s a knife’s edge between death and glory.
and a half
Blake Howard - follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman and listen to the audio review on That Movie Show 2UE here or on top-rating film podcast Pod Save Our Screen, available now on iTunes.
Director: Ron Howard
Writer: Peter Morgan (screenplay)
Starring: Daniel Brühl, Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara