wogma rating: Beg or borrow, but do watch (?)
A thrilling real life rivalry makes for a thrilling film. Rush, directed by Ron Howard, is based on the great F1 rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt, and the film doesn’t ease up on either the drama or the adrenaline. Good fun for fans and non-fans of F1 alike!Read more
I’m not one to subscribe to gender stereotypes of any kind, but there just is something about men and fast machines that draw them to each other. The sound of a high horsepower engine revving, the sight of metal beautifully moulded to aerodynamic perfection, the idea of touching a land-speed of 300 km per hour, the sheer romance of living life on the edge – I don’t know about the rest, but I do know why I enjoy cruising at speeds in excess of what one might consider safe, and I do know why I’ve been a Formula 1 fan for the better part of my life now.
If you’re a Formula 1 buff, particularly of F1 history, then you already know who Niki Lauda and James Hunt are, and you probably know about the 1976 F1 Championship in their context. If you don’t know who they are, then, well, you’ll still probably enjoy Ron Howard’s Rush.
For the uninitiated, Lauda and Hunt are and were former F1 World Champions, who had a thrilling on-track rivalry for most of their racing careers, right from when they competed in ‘lowly’ F3 together, all the way up to the pinnacle of motorsport – Formula 1. The peak of this great racing rivalry was the 1976 F1 Championship, which forms the core of Rush, which, apart from being something of a biopic, is also a thrilling ode to not just the second most watched sport in the world, but to the spirit of sport itself.
Lauda and Hunt were starkly opposite in personality, something that really fuelled their rivalry. Hunt was charismatic, blonde, oozing masculine charm and had a colourful professional as well as personal life. Lauda, on the other hand, was precise, meticulous and dour, and he spoke only when necessary and exactly as much as necessary. Their racing styles reflected their personalities, but both of them were undeniably terrific racing drivers. Quite simply, their rivalry was always a film waiting to happen.
And what a film it has made for. Dramatic and thrilling in equal measure, it is films like Rush that keep reminding us that truth will always be more fascinating than fiction. Rush makes you feel for the characters, it makes you want to sit in an F1 car yourself, and it makes you see what competitive sport at the highest level is all about. It is about talent and perseverance, about the will to win, and about the important role that destiny itself has in success at the zenith of your field.
Ron Howard has always had a strong sense of embellishing drama, and he’s in top form in Rush as well. The thing about great rivals in any field, be it fictitious or in real life, is that one is because of the other. Think Bernini and Borromini; think Batman and the Joker; think Lauda and Hunt; Howard and writer Peter Morgan capture this facet in a way that’s obvious yet beautiful; in a manner that makes you want to pick a side, but also makes you wonder whose side you should be on.
What also works really well for the film is the fact that Howard has handled the racing scenes with extreme dexterity as well. From gorgeous long shots of the track and cars to extreme close-ups of car parts mid-race, you feel the thrill and the adrenaline rush that can only honestly be bettered by actually being in an F1 car.
I must confess that, on seeing the first promo of the film months ago, while I thought Daniel Brühl was a fair choice for Lauda, I was a little skeptical about Chris Hemsworth playing James Hunt. I thought he would bring in too much of his own image into the character; I thought that James Hunt would turn out to be too ‘Thor’ for my liking. However, both Brühl and Hemsworth have outdone themselves in Rush. Their personalities play off each other well, and they convince you of the respect as well as loathing the two characters have for each other.
Hans Zimmer, for a change, has turned out fairly minimalist score for the film. The music kicks in when required, but it largely plays second fiddle to the characters and their conflict, which works well for the film. With so much going for it, the thing about Rush is, an F1 fan is almost guaranteed to like it, but I won’t be surprised if the film makes a few converts as well. Head off to the theatres, then. Step on it.
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
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