Film review: Rush

Rush (MA15+) **** 

Director: Ron Howard. 

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Alexandra Maria Lara, Olivia Wilde.

A GOOD film can take a subject someone might not be interested in and make it interesting .

A great film can do that, and then throw in two mostly unlikable characters as the leads, and make you like them.

By this rationale, Rush is a great film.

From the point of view of someone who doesn't like formula one racing and has little-to-no interest in the subject, Rush is an exhilarating and exciting film. The fact it features two lead characters who are arrogant, flawed, possibly insane, and easy to hate and then make you cheer for them both means Rush is nothing short of amazing.

The film centres largely on what seems to have been the most thrilling season motor sport has ever seen 1976.

This was the year that British playboy James Hunt (Hemsworth) and the unnervingly focused Austrian Niki Lauda (Bruhl) went head-to-head for the championship.

If you are a true fan of formula one, you'll know what happened in '76 the accidents, the politics, the close finishes, the comebacks

If you know nothing about the 1976 formula one season, you are in for a great ride.

Hemsworth and Bruhl are excellent as two vastly-different, yet strangely-similar men.

Hemsworth's Hunt lives for the moment. He's in it for the thrill, the fame and the glory and he drives from the gut, while Bruhl's Lauda is a mostly humourless perfectionist who is methodical and who drives because he wants to be great at one thing and this is that thing.

But their similarities and the resulting rivalry is what makes Rush a great character piece. Both men are incredibly arrogant in different ways, with egos bigger than the cars they drive, yet each is the antithesis of the other.

Hemsworth and Bruhl deliver intense but precise performances that help make the film more than just extended race sequences. And even when the dialogue gets bogged down in finding the philosophical ideals to explain the characters' actions, they keep the movie grounded.

For fans of formula one, this will be about how the race sequences look and how accurate the recreation is. Rush gets big ticks in both boxes.

The racing looks amazing: a mixture of stunt driving and computer generated imagery. The accident at the centrepiece of the film is redone in scarily-accurate detail and the feeling of speed is achieved through some intelligent editing and directorial choices from Howard and his team.

The look of the film is also fantastic. The detail of the era and the production design is excellent, but the visuals have this old-but-new look to them, like a digital photo with an Instagram filter, but nowhere near as cheesy. It's a look that suits the film , creating a warmth of nostalgia but a preciseness of the moment too.

There have been few non-documentary films about formula one, let alone any good ones. Rush has set the bar remarkably high for any filmmaker who dares to attempt a movie about the motor sport in the future.

mneal@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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