Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Rush (2013 film)

Directed by Ron Howard and written by Peter Morgan, Rush is the story of famed rivalry between Britain’s James Hunt and Austria’s Niki Lauda during the 1970s in the Formula One racing circuit where both men gained famed in their rivalry. The film is a dramatic account in the way the rivalry began and how these two different men became great friends despite their competitiveness toward one another as Chris Hemsworth plays Hunt and Daniel Bruhl plays Lauda. Also starring Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Natalie Dormer, Christian McKay, and Pierfrancesco Favino. Rush is a thrilling yet engaging film from Ron Howard.

The film is a simple story about this legendary rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda that culminated in the 1976 Formula One racing circuit where both men pushed each other to the edge to see who is the better driver. Even as they would risk their lives to do so where Lauda would survive a severe crash that left part his face burned and inhaling toxic fumes that would force him to make a dramatic return to retain his world championship. Yet, it’s a film that is more about this rivalry but also an unlikely friendship between these two very different men who both come from rich families who didn’t support them as well as this need to prove to themselves in the world of Formula One racing. Even as both men would also endure highs and lows in their professional and personal lives as they would get married to different women.

Peter Morgan’s screenplay takes its time to explore the seeds of this rivalry between Hunt and Lauda which began in 1970 where the two men in a Formula Three race in Britain as the more brash Hunt would caught the ire of the more technical-based Lauda as the latter is more concerned with precision and making sure everything goes right in the car than the more adventurous Hunt. The first act showcases the two men struggling to get into the Formula One circuit where Lauda would have to take a loan to get into a racing team while Hunt would gain a rich supporter and the attention of being married to British supermodel Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde) only to find himself without a proper sponsor. The second act is about the intensity of their rivalry which culminates in the 1976 Formula One racing season where Lauda would wed the German socialite Marlene (Alexandra Maria Lara) as well as endure the crash that nearly killed him. Then comes the third act where it isn’t just about Lauda wanting to return but also Hunt trying to deal with the guilt in believing that he was responsible for Lauda’s crash as he would try to prove to himself to be a world champion.

Ron Howard’s direction is quite stylish not just in its look but also in the way he tells the story as he doesn’t just focus on this legendary rivalry but also the world of these two men outside of the racing circuits and what drives them to succeed. Howard recreates that sense of energy of the 1970s where the world of Formula One racing was becoming mainstream and it attracted everyone from the rich to the working class. Much of it would be shot in an array of styles from hand-held cameras to elaborate crane shots to capture not just the intensity of the race but also in the way the audience reacts to what is happening. Even as Howard would use some extreme close-ups into what goes on inside the car and how it plays as this extension of the two different racers. Howard’s compositions towards the world outside of racing is more simplistic with a flair of style as it plays into those different lives of Hunt and Lauda as the former is quite crazy and comical while the other is more subdued. Yet, it would get more dramatic in the third act as it plays to Lauda’s struggle to get back in the racing circuit after his near-fatal accident as well as Hunt trying to win with some honor. Even as underneath all of that animosity towards one another, there is a sense of respect that the two would gain for each other. Overall, Howard creates a very engaging and mesmerizing film about one of the greatest rivalries in Formula One racing.

Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle does brilliant work with the film‘s very stylized and colorful cinematography that plays to not just that vibrant look of the 1970s but also to maintain something that feels gritty at times but also dream-like in some respects as Mantle‘s work is a major highlight. Editors Daniel Hanley and Mike Hill do fantastic work with the editing as it is very stylized with a lot of jump-cuts and montages to play into the energy of the races as well as the world that Hunt lives in. Production designer Mark Digby, with set decorator Michelle Day and supervising art director Patrick Rolfe, does terrific work with the set design from the look of the homes that the characters live in as well as the design of the cars and what they look like from the inside. Costume designer Julian Day does excellent work with the costumes from the look of the 70s clothing the women wear to play into that world as well as the racing jumpsuits the men wore in the race.

Hair/makeup designer Fae Hammond and prosthetic makeup designer Mark Coulier do superb work with the look of the hairstyle of the 1970s as well as the look that Lauda would have after his near-fatal crash. The visual effects work of Jody Johnson, Mark Hodgkins, and Antoine Moulineau is terrific for some of the visual effects look in some of the racing scenes as well as some of the interiors of the cars. Sound designer Markus Stemler and sound editor Frank Kruse do amazing work with the film‘s sound from the way the engines sound to the atmosphere of the racing with the tires and such as it is captured with great detail. The film’s music by Hans Zimmer is wonderful for its orchestral score that features some soaring, bombastic moments as well as some quieter moments in the dramatic pieces while music supervisor Nick Angel creates a fun soundtrack that features music from the 70s like David Bowie, the Spencer David Group, Slade, Thin Lizzy, Jimmy Cliff, the Sweet Sensation, and Mud.

The casting by Nina Gold is incredible as the film features some notable small roles from Natalie Dormer as a nurse Hunt meets early in the film, Christian McKay as a lord who would invest Hunt early in his career, and Pierfrancesco Favino as the racer Clay Regazzoni who would be a mentor to Lauda as well as a teammate early in Lauda’s racing career. Olivia Wilde is terrific as the British supermodel Suzy Miller who would be Hunt’s wife early in his career as she is driven away by his own immaturity as she tries to ground him. Alexandra Maria Lara is amazing as Marlene as a socialite who would fall and marry Lauda as she would be the one person to ground Lauda and give him a life outside of racing.

Chris Hemsworth is great as the late James Hunt as this brash British driver who wants to succeed and have fun with it while dealing with his own failures and the presence of Lauda. Finally, there’s Daniel Bruhl in a phenomenal performance as Niki Lauda as this young Austrian who is known for being technical as he strives to succeed in his own terms while dealing with his own shyness and inability to connect with other people. Hemsworth and Bruhl have this wonderful rapport in the way they dislike each other but also in appreciating one another which adds to the film’s success.

Rush is a marvelous film from Ron Howard that features superb performances from Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl. The film is definitely an intriguing look into the world of Formula One racing as well as the legendary rivalry between Niki Lauda and the late James Hunt. In the end, Rush is a sensational film from Ron Howard.

© thevoid99 2014


Dell said...

Rush is a terrific movie. You're exactly right about the performances of our two stars. They were boy phenomenal. And their rivalry was truly compelling. Great review.

Brittani Burnham said...

I liked Rush. I didn't see it until after the Oscars, and I'm floored that it didn't get any Sound nominations. I also think Bruhl was stronger in this film than Abdi was in Captain Phillips (though I'm glad Abdi got a nom for his first role) but I wish Bruhl could've gotten in there as well.

thevoid99 said...

@Wendell-It was better than I thought it would be as I'm usually not a fan of Ron Howard but this one was really good.

@Brittani-Bruhl should've been nominated and I am in total agreement that this film was severely overlooked in the category for sound because it was top-notch work.

ruth said...

I saw this on the big screen and was quite impressed by it, esp. Daniel Bruhl's performance. He's such an underrated actor, I had hoped he'd garner a nomination as Nikki Lauda.

thevoid99 said...

@ruth-Bruhl is a brilliant actor as the guy needs more exposure as I loved him in Goodbye Lenin! and another film that he did that I saw some years ago called The Edukators which I have a review of that needs to be re-written.

Anonymous said...

I loved the visuals of the film, very kinetic and fantastic at putting us in the intensity of racing. I highly enjoyed the work of Bruhl, he really played Lauda splendidly by nailing the taciturn and technical mind and then the striving to survive following the horror crash. I'm not a big fan of Formula 1 but I found this movie extremely compelling.

thevoid99 said...

@vinnieh-I don't know much about Formula 1 and I wasn't sure it was going to be good as I think Ron Howard is a hit-miss filmmaker but this was really fucking good.

Anonymous said...

I really had a blast with this film.