Ron Howard’s “Rush” is just that…one gigantic, incredible rush to your system. You need not know anything about racing to appreciate the terrific storytelling, phenomenal racing scenes and great acting that is this film.
Directed by Howard with screenplay by Peter Morgan, “Rush” is the true story of the 1970s rivalry between Formula One drivers Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth). The two men have very different personalities and the film is told from both perspectives. What brings them together is the will to win races. And what races they are! Howard captures perfectly the feel of the race track, the sights, the sounds…you can almost smell the gas.
As “Rush” shows us, both men were born into similar upper-class backgrounds—Hunt in England and Lauda in Austria. Neither family was supportive of their racing careers. It’s likely that the lack of support was a huge motivating factor for both of them. “Rush” does a fantastic job in demonstrating Hunt’s and Lauda’s differing approaches to racing. Not only was Lauda a great driver, he truly understood the mechanics of the car and was a perfectionist about his driving and the performance of his car. Lauda is someone you’d want not only in the driver’s seat, but under the hood as well. His single-mindedness made for perhaps a lonely life, but for those who “got” him, it seems to have been worth the effort. One such person was his wife, Marlene, beautifully portrayed by Alexandra Maria Lara. Hunt,on the other hand, was no less competitive, but believed in living life to its fullest. He was exciting and fun to be around, yet beneath all that flamboyant joviality, was not that easy to really know. Olivia Wilde as his first wife, Suzy, is terrific in showing what kind of fortitude it took to be with him (interestingly enough, she left him for Richard Burton).
Much of the movie deals with Lauda’s horrific 1976 crash during the German Grand Prix. His body was badly burned and his lungs were damaged, but miraculously he was back on the circuit 48 days later. Never attractive to begin with, Lauda’s face was horribly scarred and never the same again, but he remained remarkably comfortable in his own skin, no matter what form it took.
Hemsworth and Brühl are utterly astonishing in their roles and as the movie’s conclusion shows, bear uncanny resemblances to their respective characters (in fact, as shockingly attractive as Hemsworth is, the real Hunt might be even better looking). Hemsworth is terrific as the joie de vivre Hunt. He captures his spirit beautifully, but also shows the insecurity that lies buried well beneath the surface. Hemsworth demonstrates that when given good material, he is much more than a pretty face and can rise to the occasion. Brühl’s portrayal of Lauda is nothing short of phenomenal. In a completely vanity-free performance, Brühl manages to illustrate all facets of Lauda’s personality…most especially his grit and determination.
A shout-out must be given to Anthony Dod Mantle’s terrific cinematography, spot-on 70s-style clothing and makeup, a fabulous 70s score and great original music by Hans Zimmer. They make a great movie even better.
Ron Howard and Peter Morgan have combined to make one compelling, story-telling at its best, film. With “Rush” the fall season of fantastic movies begins in earnest.