Ferrari film review Michael Mann’s Enzo biopic asks what drove the motor mogul

In the latest cinematic venture by acclaimed director Michael Mann, the highly anticipated biopic “Ferrari” delves into the tumultuous life of Enzo Ferrari, the founder of the iconic sports car brand. The film, set against the backdrop of the summer of 1957, opens with a gunshot aimed at Ferrari, played by Adam Driver, setting the stage for a narrative filled with crises and constant drama.

Image showing Ferrari film review Michael Mann’s Enzo biopic asks what drove the motor mogul

Despite his life being a series of high-stakes events, Enzo Ferrari was known for being secretive and self-contained. Mann, renowned for his work in films like “Thief,” “Heat,” and “Miami Vice,” brings his expertise in portraying enigmatic characters to the table. However, the director’s inclination towards surface aesthetics may pose a challenge when trying to uncover the depths of Ferrari’s character, especially given the subject’s aversion to Hollywood spotlight.

The film introduces Penélope Cruz as Laura Ferrari, Enzo’s wife, who fires the opening shot in a symbolic gesture that sets the tone for their troubled marriage and the overall melodramatic narrative. As the story unfolds, viewers are taken into the relative safe space of the driver’s seat, revealing complications such as hidden relationships, financial woes for the Ferrari company, and preparations for the 1957 Mille Miglia race.

Shailene Woodley portrays Lina Lardi, a woman with whom Ferrari shares a hidden relationship and a son he never publicly acknowledged. The film skillfully weaves lighter moments of knowing comedy with tragic elements, exploring the complexities of Enzo Ferrari’s personal and professional life.

While the motorsport scenes are well-staged, serving as a reminder of the indifference of metal to flesh, the film rises above mere spectacle. Unlike the recent “House of Gucci,” “Ferrari” carries a sense of gravity, delving into themes of loss, particularly the early deaths of Enzo’s brother and son. The portrayal of grief is palpable, with Cruz delivering a standout performance that grounds the larger-than-life character of Enzo Ferrari.

Adam Driver’s portrayal of Enzo Ferrari, while not as commanding as Cruz’s, manages to navigate the complexities of the material. The film, set for release in the U.S. on December 25 and in the UK on December 26, aims to answer the question of what truly drove Enzo Ferrari – the cool logician torn between the forces of money and blood. Mann skillfully engineers an answer that gleams like a sports car, presenting a thing of beauty amid the intricacies of Enzo Ferrari’s life.