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Michael Mann’s long in the works passion project Ferrari ultimately amounts to a rote biopic, devoid of a compelling atmosphere, that doesn’t even get the adrenaline pumping in the racing sequences.

If there is one thing that Ferrari does right, it’s to centre the tale on one specific moment in the life of its titular character, when Enzo Ferrari’s car company is on the brink of bankruptcy, his marriage is about to unravel, and he has one race, the famed Mille Miglia, to secure his legacy.

Despite the clear opportunities to wring compelling drama from this set-up, the picture badly stumbles in the execution. Leaden dialogue and predictable melodrama are a burden on the film, which also suffers from severe narrative tempo issues.

Lead Adam Driver – luckily toning down the Italian accent he sported in House of Gucci – at times hints at the passion behind Enzo Ferrari’s endeavours, but he mostly remains an enigma, while Penelope Cruz is saddled with a multitude of clichéd scenes that focus solely on anger and indignation. The one character I did find intriguing, Patrick Dempsey’s aging racing driver Piero Taruffo, hardly gets any meaningful screentime.

But, surprisingly for a Michael Mann film, Ferrari struggles most on a visual level. Compared with e.g. other recent racing picture Ford v. Ferrari the car action in this film is far less exhilarating.

And on top of that, in a final act tragedy that should have tied the narrative and character development poignantly together, Mann unwisely choses shock and horror over emotional impact, leaving a sour taste for an already underwhelming movie.

release: 2023

director: Michael Mann

starring: Adam Driver, Penelope Cruz, Shailene Woodley, Patrick Dempsey


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