Le Mans ’66 (Ford Vs Ferrari) [2019] ★★★½

Alright let’s take care of the elephant in the room right away: I’m no car aficionado. I know almost nothing about Le Mans or NASCAR racing in general. So why would a movie about a rivalry between Ford and Ferrari set in the 60’s interest me at all? That’s what I kept telling myself as I walked in to see “Le Mans ’66”. Surprise: the movie is spectacular. In fact, I can’t remember the last time a film truly pulled me in as much as this one. It does benefit from having two terrific actors behind the wheels. Matt Damon plays American car designer Carroll Shelby, who, together with British driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale, in one of the best performances of his career), designed a race car for Ford Motor Company to take on the dominating cars of Enzo Ferrari at the Le Mans in France in 1966. On paper, this simple slice of history shouldn’t work as much as it does. But director James Mangold has turned it into a powerful film packed with tension and potent human drama. And all the actors truly sink their teeth into their characters. The result is a film that grabs you from the word go and never lets go. Cheers too, to cinematographer Phedon Papamichael, who shot a series of pulse-pounding racing scenes that truly raise your adrenaline level. And so, “Le Mans ’66” quickly emerges as one of the best car racing films of all time. And to do all this without losing sight of what’s human and striving behind the helmets is no small achievement. I say this with full confidence: This film is a must-see.

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