Friday, 3 November 2017

"Ferrari: Race to Immortality" (Guardian 03/11/17)

Ferrari: Race to Immortality **
Dir: Daryl Goodrich. Documentary with: Richard Williams, Nigel Roebuck, Doug Nye, Louise King. 91 mins. Cert: 15

This very authorised-seeming F1 documentary pulls up third behind recent films on the McLaren and Williams empires, which may explain why it often seems in such a rush. Of Enzo Ferrari himself, for one, there is next to naught: nothing on where he came from, nor how he got into the sport, just gnomic audioclips, choice onscreen quotes and biographical titbits that sketch some vague philosophy about testing oneself against unknown forces. The focus is almost exclusively on his star employees – those corner-cutting gadabouts of the company’s late 50s golden age – which allows director Daryl Goodrich to unspool reels of gleaming Kodachromed images of drivers in their trackside pomp. Where August’s probing Williams did so much to separate fragile man from fast machine, Goodrich’s more misty-eyed, nostalgic endeavour never really gets under its subject’s hood.

What the film instead seems drawn towards – or perhaps can’t avoid – are those horrendous pile-ups that blighted the sport’s early decades, yet their framing here feels naggingly cursory. Where Senna’s crashes formed the basis of a major tragedy, and those in 2013’s Life on the Limit informed a wider investigation into F1 health-and-safety advances, Goodrich deploys his carnage as punctuating spectacle, shrugged off with a few plaintive piano notes as part of the job. (These death drives become so numerous you wonder whether the estate insisted Signor Ferrari remain invisible as a plausible-deniability measure.) It knows its target audience – hitting DVD shelves Monday in time to fill Dad’s Christmas stocking – but as a film it’s altogether keener to Turtle Wax the brand than stop for even a moment to examine what Ferrari the man, logo and company ever stood for.

Ferrari: Race to Immortality opens in selected cinemas from today, ahead of its DVD release this Monday. 

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