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In Review Rush

27th September 2013 | Posted in Film & Cinema

This is the film that the world has been screaming out for. The perfect translation of the rip roaring, often lethal life of a Formula One driver, that draws on a much deeper level than simply what occurs on the track. A powerful, intoxicating mix of raw emotion and the insatiable portrayal of acutely defined characters, and a rivalry that has become legend, Rush is a triumph in a film genre which has wrongly suffered.

Set around the 1976 Formula One Championship, Rush is the tale of two men, with only one thing in common. Racing. Apart from the fact that they share one track, the two are complete polar opposites. James Hunt, played by Chris Hemsworth, is a typically pompous Brit. A raucous lover of partying, and an even bigger lover of women. Larger than life, Hunt is the stereotypical representation of racing drivers in the 1970's: long hair, unbuttoned shirts, big sunglasses and bigger sex drives. Niki Lauda, played by Daniel Bruhl, is Hunt's arch rival. A hard faced, serious talking Austrian, Lauda is methodically brilliant, yet a dull character who simply gets the job done-but does it incredibly well. Rush goes much further than the initial plot of fast cars and fierce rivalry suggests. Building around the bare bones of a story that encapsulated an era of motor racing, Rush becomes such an iconic film thanks to the perfectly played out roles by Hemsworth and Bruhl. With his long blonde hair and chiseled features, Hemsworth goes a long way in representing James Hunt for what he was. An instinctive risk taker on the track, and a pure party boy off it. His delivery of one line: "The closer you are to death, the more alive you feel. It's a wonderful way to live. It's the only way to drive." epitomizes the life that Hunt lived. Reckless, limitless and incredibly dangerous.

Bruhl delivers one of the most convincing performances that has been seen in recent years. Growing Lauda's stature as the film progresses, he manages to show the racer's tortured emotional imbalance through one of the most remarkable stories in Formula One's history. From being a stone faced young racer, who bought his way into a failing F1 team with a private loan, to one of Ferrari's least loved drivers (after accusing an engineer of designing "a piece of crap"), Bruhl makes Lauda's transition from young racer to seasoned pro seamless.

Then comes the real clincher of his performance. Following getting married, Lauda becomes a changed man. He sees an increased risk in everything, citing that "Happiness is the enemy", now he has a wife to lose if he dies in the ruthless sport.

The real basis of the film comes from Lauda's horrific accident at the Nurburgring in 1976. Following his petition to cancel the race due to adverse weather conditions, the committee is swayed by Hunt and the race goes ahead. Lauda stands down on his decision not to race, and crashes whilst chasing Hunt in the wet conditions. He suffers burns to his face and lungs, and remarkably survives the crash, as he is trapped in his burning car for over one minute in 800 degree heat.

Bruhl does a remarkable job of painting a relentlessly driven Lauda, who fights through the recovery from his severe burns to return to racing- and finish his battle with his arch enemy James Hunt, who openly admits that he felt responsible for Lauda's accident- "Trust me: watching you win those races, while I was fighting for my life, you were equally responsible for getting me back in the car."

Rush is everything a film should be- exhilarating, intense, obsessive and compelling. It will draw you back into a time where racing stood for one thing: passion. Through the epic story of Lauda and Hunt, you will be pulled into the emotional abyss of being a 70's Formula One driver. The drug and alcohol fueled euphoric highs, the desperately dark lows, and the daunting prospect of being killed by one of the most dangerous sports on earth. Rush is a triumph of independent cinema, made possible by the brilliantly diverse portrayal of two of the sports greatest legends by two very talented actors.

Ryan J Gray

 

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