Friday 10 January 2014

"1" (The Guardian 10/01/14)

1: Life on the Limit (12A) 111 mins ****

Any moto-documentary that sets its down-the-nosecone footage of the Monaco GP to Focus’s “Hocus Pocus” can be fairly confident of shifting DVDs as Father’s Day approaches, but Paul Crowder’s often surprisingly critical F1 history identifies its true narrative drive in the trade-off between crowdpleasing speed and concern for driver survival. Smartly marshalled archive finds the sweet spot between gawping at carnage and contextualising it within the sport’s painful evolution; the thrills of well-timed overtaking manoeuvres are set against the horror of men being roasted alive. Eventually, 1 must arrive at Senna, San Marino, and the moment when, after decades of (crucially, untelevised) destruction, racing was forced to lift its visor and take a hard look at itself – yet Crowder’s film is now equally haunted by Michael Schumacher’s presence, in a way that furthers its thesis: as F1 tightens up on safety, might the real speedfreaks be driven towards potentially deadlier pursuits?

1 opens in selected cinemas from today.

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