As I write this, my dad is at Daytona for their 24 hour race. He is an avid race fan and thanks go him I grew up around racing and still enjoy the sport and spectacle today. Living in Indianapolis, the racing capital of the world, I find comfort and excitement in the sight and sound of a race car. On a good day, I could tell you the difference between an F1, Indycar, Nascar or dragster just on sound. Sitting in the theater watching Ford V Ferrari was great just for the noise. I have a feeling that the people around me enjoyed hearing the sounds of engines roaring in January and cannot wait until May. It could only sound more authentic if the theater could handle how truly loud these cars can be.
But enough of my nostalgia. Ford v Ferrari focuses on two men as they strive to create a perfect racing machine. There’s the former driver and car designer, Carrol Shelby (Matt Damon), who continually butts heads as he tries to work with Mr. Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) and his corporate suits. Then there’s his pick to be their lead driver, Ken Miles (Christian Bale). He’s an English wildcard with a wife (Caitriona Balfe, the only woman with actual lines in the film), a son who looks up to him and a failing business fixing foreign sports cars. He knows these sorts of cars inside and out and how to push them to their limits. Together Shelby and Miles work to make history in the world of racing and make Ford a contender.
Even without the story elevating the drama, the racing scenes are stunning, exciting and visually spectacular. Whether you’re a racing fan, car nut or neither, this film makes you appreciate just how much ingenuity goes into these high performance machines and the cinematography makes us appreciate their beautiful designs. Often, the soundtrack during the racing sequences is a perfect rhythmic background, pushing us along with the cars, giving us a beat that keeps our hearts pumping and feeling Miles’ adrenaline in each turn.
Ford v Ferrari is only nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Picture, sound editing, sound mixing and film editing. Compared to the ten and eleven nominations other films have, you may discount this film. I certainly did, but after seeing it, this film feels right at home among the other Best Picture nominees. It’s enjoyable, engaging, smart, often funny and packs a punch with the intense wow factor in the racing scenes.
“Look out there. Out there is the perfect lap. You see it?”