Set in 1957, Enzo Ferrari (Adam Driver) is an ex-race car driver and the current owner of a well-known Italian car company. However, Ferrari is currently in hot water due to the lack of sales. Enzo’s wife, Laura (Penélope Cruz), also works with him as a business partner. Enzo decides the only way the Ferrari business can bounce back is if they can enter and win the upcoming race, known as the Mille Miglia in Italy.
However, winning the Mille Miglia comes with challenges and extreme pressure for Enzo. Firstly, his ideal preference of a driver has a terrible accident, dying at the scene. Along with looking for a replacement driver, Enzo and his wife continue to mourn the loss of their only son. Enzo has been having an affair with another woman and has a secret son who may one day become the owner of Ferrari. While Enzo keeps his eye on the prize for the sake of his company, dark secrets from Enzo’s world begin to be discovered.
Ferrari is a dramatic film with minor action moments. Director Michael Mann is well known for his many films, including Heat, Collateral, and The Last of the Mohicans. Based on the director’s past work, you’ll be disappointed if you’re expecting an action-packed car racing film. Granted, some scenes focus on fast cars and racing and feature good action, but for the most part, Ferrari is more of a drama about the man himself, Enzo Ferrari.
Performance-wise, I was impressed and surprised by Adam Driver’s leading performance, including his Italian accent. As a character, Enzo is exceptionally focused, primarily calm, and, most times, highly selfish. Enzo will do anything and everything to win in all areas. Actress Penélope Cruz as Laura is excellent here, giving plenty of moments where her character is frustrated and emotional on-screen. Plus, I would go as far as to say that she sometimes offers a more remarkable performance during selected scenes.
Costumes and hair designs throughout the film look great and feel highly convincing, given the period, and those who enjoy seeing Ferraris in action will take joy whenever they are shown on-screen. The soundtrack, however, didn’t work for me. During scenes and mid-conversation, a musical number would sneak in, distracting from the scene and feeling unfitting. While the audio department was terrific during the racing scenes, I noticed in one or two scenes that characters had different pitches and volumes during discussions, which was unusual and distracting.
Overall, you might be disappointed if you hope for another wild action film from director Michael Mann. Here, the director is more invested in retelling stories from critical moments in Enzo Ferrari’s life. I was unaware of these moments in time, and I found it engaging and fascinating to discover the story on the big screen, even though the pacing was slow. Adam Driver as Enzo is terrific, and shining even brighter is Penélope Cruz as Enzo’s wife, Laura. The racing is exciting, and the elements in the sound department also don’t disappoint. The costume work is excellent; however, the soundtrack sometimes felt off-beat and unfitting. Ultimately, opinions will differ on this determined man’s journey to win in all areas of his life, no matter the cost.