03 October 2013


Fun fact about me: I will see any movie Daniel Brühl is in, on general principle. The dude is fantastic, and most of the movies he's in are too. And even if they're not, they're worth watching just for him. So yup, off I trotted to check this one out. Overall - it's a so-so movie. But you should go see it anyways, because he's great.

The premise is made for cinema - the rivalry between two Formula 1 race car drivers, one the classic bad boy, the other an anti-social nerd who knows how to drive good. The bad boy character is pretty much the same one we know from many many other movies, though good ol' Thor is certainly pleasant to look at and manages to play it reasonably well, with only the occasional eye-roll-inducing descent into utter cliche. The filmmakers are canny enough to give him a genuinely interesting scene that serves to completely redeem and humanize his character and make you root for him, but it comes rather late in the film.

Brühl, meanwhile, is a character we are less familiar with, and not quite sure what to make of (and oh man his Austrian accent is SO spot on, both in German and English). A genius of sorts, but also thoroughly unpleasant, personality-wise. We can't quite decide whether or not to like him, and attempts to humanize him are shaky and not entirely convincing. He also throws a real wrench into the typical trope of sports biopics. What is it that drives him, really? It's hard to say, but Brühl manages to make this seem complex and subtle rather than undeveloped. What I really liked about the movie was how it managed to deliberate between the nerd and the popular guy in what to me at least was a genuinely compelling way.

Unfortunately there's a fairly lengthy bit in the middle that is way more gruesome than necessary -- one really wonders why the filmmakers insisted on such wrenchingly grotesque stuff; to shock? To make us realize what we're really dealing with here? Just 'cuz? -- and his wife is shamefully undeveloped personality-wise. But I will say this for the movie -- it actually gave me a glimpse of how Nascar might be genuinely interesting. It definitely captures both the thrill and the terror of racing, but also the utter stupidity and the wreckless disregard that the organization has for the people involved. As a bonus though, they do something at the end that I really like in this type of film, namely, they let you see what the real people look like, which is neat.

Overall, I'd say it's worth watching, but as should be clear, when it comes to Mr. Brühl, I am not even a little bit objective.

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