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Derrick Dunn

Michael Mann’s decent direction and Adam Driver’s lead performance keep Ferrari from running out of gas

Following the misfire, 65, Adam Driver teams up with legendary director Michael Mann for Ferrari. Troy Kennedy Martin pens the film’s script based on the 1991 biography Enzo Ferrari: The Man, the Cars, the Races, the Machine by motorsport journalist Brock Yates.

Ferrari takes place in the summer of 1957, and the movie primarily focuses on the life of Enzo Ferrari (Driver). The movie’s narrative is carefully crafted to avoid presenting a warts-and-all depiction of events. Instead, the film hopes to offer a more nuanced and detailed view of Enzo’s struggles and triumphs during this period.

As the story unfolds, we are introduced to Enzo, who is reeling from the death of his son, Dino. After an affair with Lina Lardi (Shailene Woodley), he is also trying to repair his deteriorating marriage with his wife Laura, who the incomparable Penélope Cruz plays. The couple’s relationship is strained due to Enzo’s obsession with his car company and his lack of attention to his family. This is further compounded by the fact that his company is facing financial ruin.

Enzo desperately attempts to save his company and enters his racing team to the 1957 Mille Miglia. This is a grueling 1,000-mile race through the Italian countryside, and Enzo sees it as the perfect opportunity to showcase his company’s prowess and restore its reputation. However, the race has challenges and obstacles, and Enzo must navigate them all to achieve his goals.

A passion project for the director for nearly two decades, Ferrari finally comes to fruition on the heels of 2019’s highly enjoyable Ford Vs. Ferrari. Ironically, the film’s star, Christian Bale, was Mann’s first choice for the role of Enzo, but he dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Mann hasn’t been behind the camera since the 2015 cyber thriller flop Blackhat. 

The question is whether the film redeems both the director and the star. As a fan of biopics, one of the first things I commend the director for is the decision to focus on a specific period of the subject’s life to investigate it thoroughly, as he did with Ali in 2001.

Mann directs Driver through solid moments as Enzo struggles with his marriage, business, affair with Lina, and coping with Dino’s death. The film also emphasizes the significance of preparing for the Mille Miglia race, including selecting drivers like Alfonso de Portago and his training.

The movie is mainly a success despite a few flaws. Some movie fans might find fault with Driver’s Italian accent, which feels unnatural. Ferrari also encounters challenges in achieving its full potential owing to conflicting elements. While some scenes are executed impeccably, such as Laura’s silent tribute at her son’s grave and the captivating portrayal of Guidizzolo’s tragedy, the personal stories of the drivers are not given enough attention.

I acknowledge the film should heavily focus on Enzo Ferrari, but this singular perspective detracts from a more balanced and emotionally impactful storytelling approach. Thankfully, the automotive sequences are skillfully executed, and the attention to detail in recreating the events surrounding the 1957 Mille Miglia race is impressive.


Despite its flaws, Ferrari is a decent biopic guided by Mann’s direction and Driver’s performance worth checking out at least once.

Final Grade: B –

Ferrari opens in theaters today.

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Michael Mann’s decent direction and Adam Driver’s lead performance keep Ferrari from running out of gas