Ferrari Review – IGN

Ferrari Movie Review: A Grief-Driven Drama with Thrilling Racing Scenes


Ferrari premieres in theaters December 25. This review is based on a screening of the film at the 2023 Venice International Film Festival.

Adam Driver’s Captivating Performance

Is Adam Driver the greatest non-Italian Italian movie star of his generation? Less than two years after Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci saw him playing a successful Florentine businessman whose career was greatly boosted by a witty wife he once loved but has grown to no longer desire, Driver takes the lead role in Michael Mann’s Ferrari, which casts him a successful Maranellesi businessman whose career was greatly boosted by a witty wife he no longer loves.

The Grief-Fueled Narrative

Yes, there are many similarities between House of Gucci and Ferrari, but the greatest difference between the two is also Ferrari’s greatest strength: if Maurizio Gucci was a man driven by greed, Enzo Ferrari was a man driven by grief. Mann’s snapshot of the founding father of Scuderia Ferrari picks up in 1957, just a year after the loss of his only legitimate son, Alfredo, and at a time when both his marriage and his company are threatening to become no more.

A Subdued Drama with Personal Struggles

This interest in Enzo’s personal and family troubles unexpectedly steers Ferrari away from high-octane thriller (a Mann signature) and towards a more subdued drama. The racing mogul splits his days between heated arguments with his grief-stricken wife Laura (Penélope Cruz) and an idyllic countryside routine alongside his mistress of many years, Lina (Shailene Woodley), who also happens to be the mother of his now only living – but illegitimate – son, Piero. The child’s craving for recognition reads as a Shakespearean dilemma when placed alongside the Ferraris’ painful loss of their only heir, the dichotomy prompting difficult questions on the importance of continuity and legacy.

Thrilling Racing Scenes

Despite playing second-fiddle to the thorny family disputes at the center of Ferrari, there’s still plenty of vroom in Mann’s automotive biopic. Spanish driver Alfonso de Portago (Gabriel Leone) comes into the Italian city of Modena with invigorating energy: young, hungry, and ready to jump behind the wheel. New blood, it turns out, is precisely what could save Ferrari from insolvency and in an attempt to negotiate a better deal with a partner company, Enzo sends out a team of drivers to race – and hopefully win – the prestigious Mille Miglia endurance race.

Incredible Crash Scenes and Beautiful Cinematography

There might only be a handful of proper racing scenes in Mann’s highly anticipated racing film but, oh my, do they deliver. The director promised mangled bodies and honors his words through what is bound to be considered one of the greatest crash scenes in cinema history. Flesh melts into steel in the blink of an eye, lives torn with the violence of a thousand throttles as lungs fill up with rubber fumes, adrenaline cruelly amplifying desperation. The Mille Miglia circuit is recreated in all of its 1950s glory, cutting through the bowels of Italy from mountain to bright-colored towns and framed vividly by David Fincher collaborator Erik Messerschmidt, who finds equal beauty in oil-dripping wreckages and plump, soft skin.

Emotional Score and Strong Performances

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’s Daniel Pemberton scores this Audioslave-less Mann flick, punctuating the gritty sounds of thudding metal and roaring engines with heartrending melodies fittingly used as a reminder that Ferrari is a film about loss and longing in all their many forms. A natural inclination towards melancholy also crowns Driver’s central performance, which features a much less pronounced Italian accent but a much more refined physical embodiment of Italian-ness than in Scott’s flamboyant epic, the actor’s imposing body sharpened by finely cut suits and his distinct face framed by classic Ray-Bans and slicked back silver hair.

Riveting Performances, with a Few Missteps

Speaking of flamboyant, in comes Cruz, all red-hot blood and cartoonish dramatics as gun-swinging Laura. She waits in dark living rooms as a ruthless signora, schemes and clever negotiations fully formed before a single word comes flying out of her thunderous throat. Woodley stands then as the perfect counterpart in demeanor but is still gravely miscast, with an accent so indecipherable it feels like someone took it for a day out at a new place, spun it three times, and tried to send it home. Cast-wise, a pleasant surprise comes in the shape of a peroxide blonde-haired Patrick Dempsey, a notorious racing fan who pleaded with Mann for a role in the film and fills driver Piero Taruffi to the brim with an inspired mix of charming charisma and sheer confidence.

A Safe Gamble

Whenever rubber meets asphalt, Ferrari reaches peak Michael Mann levels of blood-pumping thrills, with action sequences so beautifully orchestrated it dares one’s simple brain to figure out its mind-boggling trickeries. Alas, by choosing the emotional woes of Ferrari’s family life as our entrypoint into the story of a man fueled by the buzz of the race track, Mann takes a big gamble and, unfortunately, plays a little bit too safe.