Runtime: 2h 32min
Director: James Mangold
Writers: Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, Jason Keller
Stars: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe, Noah Jupe
By Joan Amenn
This is a straight-forward feel good film that encourages you to root for the underdog. Christian Bale is so appealing as a quirky mechanic and WW2 vet who has perhaps a touch of PTSD which occasionally leads him to unacceptable social interaction. Matt Damon has his best role in years as Bale’s sometime employer and friend who shares his passion for auto racing. Together they take up the challenge of winning Le Mans from the powerful Ferrari company, but must contend with various egos at Ford Motors to realize their dream.
The two leads play off each other well but what elevates this film higher than other sports related stories are the performances of Caitriona Balfe as Ken Miles’ wife Molly and Noah Jupe as his son Peter. Jupe in particular is totally believable in his hero worship of his father but he never becomes saccharine in his interactions with him. Balfe is a combination of steel and tenderness as the center of her husband’s life. Molly and Peter encouraging Ken as he prepares for Le Mans is juxtaposed with Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) and his uncomfortableness living up to his family legacy. Jon Bernthal as Lee Iacocca tries to bridge the differences between Ken Miles and his team and Ford Motors, but he seems more of a cliché than an actual person.
“Ford v Ferrari” is more than just a male orientated film. It is about the triumph of a family even as it shows the terrible cost of winning.