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Dir: Ron Howard
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, and Olivia Wilde
3.75 out of 5.00
Movie Review — “RUSH”
MONTE YAZZIE ~ THE FOOTHILLS FOCUS~ 10/2/2013
Rivalry can promote the best competition, bringing the best and worst qualities out of contenders.
In the 1976 season of Formula One racing, rivalry promoted one of professional sports’ most compelling storylines. Flamboyant British playboy James Hunt (Hemsworth) and the confident Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) battled for the championship the entire race season, until an unfortunate accident left the defending champion Lauda in a hospital bed.
Ron Howard directed “Rush” with steady focus on the essence of the competitive nature that guides the two men, while also placing the audience in the driver’s seat for exhilarating race sequences.
Hunt and Lauda are introduced racing in the lower divisions of the Formula One circuit. Hunt, an impulsive and instinct-driven driver, lives life to the fullest extent. Lauda, a meticulous and level headed driver, lives understanding the risk of his profession. Both men are motivated by their pasts and the need to be the best. However, that is the only similarity between the two. Hunt and Lauda are fierce competitors, pushing each other to lengths that challenge their otherwise controlled sensibilities.
Ron Howard demonstrated his talent for examining the duality of characters in “Frost/Nixon” and again established a suitable job here. Hunt was dashingly charming, seen immediately in the film’s opening as he quieted an emergency room by just saying his name. Lauda was abrasively poised, at times arrogant, with nearly every character including his supportive wife (Alexandra Maria Lara).
They were complimentary characters for this film; they served as driving forces of impulse for each other. Howard did an impressive job of examining this quality at the start, effectively jumping back and forth with the two characters while stripping away the surface material and delving into their deeper motivations.
As the film progressed Howard shifted the attention onto Hunt, even though Lauda experienced the negative consequence of the risk involved in the sport. The opportunity to explore the obsessive attitude that drove Lauda to return was swiftly touched upon.
The cinematography complemented some of the core elements proposed in Peter Morgan’s screenplay, placing the viewer in the position of the driver. Close-up photography was used to display the nervous tension seen through trembling hands and the imminent danger of the sport amidst shredding tires. These scenes were some of the best racing moments composed in some time. Unfortunately, the close-up method, along with the first person perspective, became overused by the end, which caused some of the latter action sequences to feel tedious.
Hemsworth and Brühl were perfectly cast for the lead roles. Hemsworth had an undeniable presence, a great performance for the actor, and Brühl delicately added some interesting layers to Lauda’s meticulous form. Both of their presentations brought out the subtle notes of personal triumph and defeat touched upon in the script.
The rivalry story between James Hunt and Niki Lauda drove “Rush.” The accomplished performance of the two leads, and direction by Ron Howard, moved the film assuredly between moments of character and racecar drama. While the film didn’t dig for deeper character motivations and some of the technical flares became overused, “Rush” was still an interesting film about competition.