Directed by: Ron Howard
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara
Sports based drama films almost always have the undeniably difficult task of having to accommodate to the casual movie goer as well as the obsessed super-fan of that sport, person or team who will cast their eye of scrutiny over every single detail so as not to be let down. I will therefore begin by saying that I love Formula 1, and as such my expectation was probably set a little higher than most for this film.
But Rush is a film that, thankfully, can be enjoyed by everyone, and it is all down to the incredible story. Charting the true events of the 1976 F1 world championship between title rivals James Hunt at McLaren and Niki Lauda at Ferrari, it is a story all about love and loss, passion and hard work, and two compelling but totally opposite characters in the paddock at that time.
James Hunt, played by Chris Hemsworth is the laddish sex-icon who drinks and parties, and generally lives life to the full. Meanwhile his counterpart Niki Lauda (Brühl) is the personification of hard-working, determined and on edge, and the dynamic between the two of them is fantastic.
Director Ron Howard has been in the F1 paddock for a few years now, and has got to know the sport inside out, which is telling throughout the whole film, with an air of authenticity that doesn’t detract from the characters or the story.
Where the tale really comes to a head is during Lauda’s horrific crash in Germany which saw his car engulfed in flames and suffering severe burns that threatened his life and his career. Daniel Brühl’s portrayal of Lauda’s recovery is astonishing and at times difficult to watch (the scene where he has his lungs vacuumed is not for the faint-hearted), and the fact that this all actually happened makes it even more poignant.
Significantly, and perhaps surprisingly, Howard’s story gives a lot of leverage to the women in both Hunt and Lauda’s life and adds a layer not really seen outside the sport. The long suffering wife of Niki Lauda, Marlene (played by Alexandra Maria Lara), who witnesses all his devastation is a touching addition, and adds the much needed element of something to lose in the fast paced world of motor racing where drivers regularly died on track.
It is hard to watch this film without thinking of the real people involved, and crucially you warm to both characters despite their obvious differences throughout. For F1 fans, it is a fascinating development on the events of 1976 which have become so iconic in the sport, and most definitely does it justice. Seeing Howard’s reconstruction of the crash itself compared with the real footage (also seen in the film), you understand just how close he has matched it, and is testament to the level of respect he pays. Much more however, for those who do not follow the sport there is perhaps more to be gained in discovering the unbelievable story and characters involved to the extent that you forget it is still a film you are watching. Brühl’s performance is a career highlight, and should see his stock rise considerably in the industry, and Howard has once again proved his commitment to a good story well told. A must see in how to pull off a sports drama.