Sunday, September 29, 2013

Movie Review: "Rush"

You know, I have never really cared that much for car racing in real life, and yet that does not keep me from finding Rush one of the most complete and satisfying films of 2013.

The thing about Rush is that it's not really a racing movie.  While the film does follow the world of Formula-One racing, it is not what the movie is about.  Where Rush really accelerates and manages to resonate, is in portraying the complicated love-hate rivalry between racecar drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda during the early 1970s.

This is a true story that is so fantastic that it almost seems as if it was fabricated, but the film never feels fake or Hollywoodified.  Director Ron Howard and writer Peter Morgan go to great lengths to not make it the good guy vs. bad guy scenario.  They present both the flaws and the things that made Hunt and Lauda great men of the sport.  Hunt's a charming, easy to like playboy who is self-destructive, and Lauda is so calculating and abrasive he rarely shows emotion or vulnerability, and yet you've gotta love a man who is not afraid to say what he thinks.  Featuring some of the most exciting cinematography from Anthony Dod Mantle since he won the Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire, and some genuinely whip smart editing, you really get the feeling of being in this world, on the track with these titans of racing.  What manages to evoke this feeling is Howard's documentary like approach to the material.

Ron Howard really is a chameleon of a director.  He never makes the same movie twice, and there really is no other film in his filmography quite like this one.  He sheds many of the genre conventions that you find in his other works for a stripped down, realistic approach.  You feel as if you're a fly on the wall watching the ultimate racing doc that's all rock-and-roll.  Then there's the rocking Seventies setting that's equal parts nostalgic and cool, by and large thanks to the surprisingly nuanced and of-the-times musical score from Hans Zimmer.  However, there is also a heart to this movie that is both a testament to Howard's ability to shape smart characters and the performances of his actors.  These two things combine to make these character's oddly likable, even when they aren't always the nicest of people.

Overall, Rush is simply put, a phenomenal experience at the theater.  It's a movie that can be fun, emotional, and thoughtful all in one.  It paints the picture as to why we need rivalries in life.  There has to be something pushing us to greatness, and very often a healthy rivalry is the only way to get there.  Even if a Formula-One movie isn't your cup of tea, I implore you to at least give the film a chance as a character piece.  Stars Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl compliment one another in their performances very much the same way that Hunt and Lauda did on the racetrack, and sometimes you don't need flowery words to express how much a performance, or in this case, two performances work.  Rush is definitely a movie I will be revisiting in the future and is one that I will more than likely include, very proudly I might add, on my year end best list.

I give Rush an A+!

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