When you watch a bio-pic you expect the director to peel off every layer of the personality of the person in focus. The beauty lies in how a director actually does it. Credit then, to Ron Howard that he shows us both the facade and the personalities of the racing drivers, Niki Lauda and James Hunt
If you follow the F1 season’s religiously then it must be a no-brainer for you that these both were in contention for the 1976 F1 World championship. If you are not, Ron Howard takes you on a trip that shows the battle between these drivers without demanding the nous of a F1 follower.
Daniel Bruhl, portraying Niki Lauda, goes through the whole gamut of human emotions in the role and comes up trumps. There are a lot of scenes that bring the best out of him. Be it the anxiousness while wanting to beat the clock with the vehicle designed by him, be it the disdain with which he puts down the Ferrari car, be it the trepidation with which he explains his wife what happiness means to him or the single mindedness to get back to the track in the face of a life threatening injury. Though we see him as a cold-blooded, calculating driver, we are also taken into the world where he is fearful; fearful of things going the wrong way again.
Chris Hemsworth, portraying James Hunt, has the easier role on paper. He is supposed to be the eye candy and he does a bloody good job of it. Beneath the veneer of a happy-go-lucky person lies a man craving for the adulation of the world, which Niki Lauda keeps reminding him of. Through his character we see the inner struggle of a man who has to prove to himself that he is the best. And he is willing to push the barrier for that desire. From the ritualistic pre-drive vomiting routine to him facing a barrage of questions from the waiting paparazzi with a humorous façade, Hemsworth makes us believe that this was how Hunt would’ve been. While Daniel Bruhl had a reference point in Niki Lauda, Hemsworth had none. He had to go by instinct and also what he heard from others.
The movie has a lot of scenes, which are worthy of applause on their own. The director needs to be commended for stringing all these scenes together. A few scenes that catch the eye and keep you glued to the seat are:
The first interaction between Niki Lauda and James Hunt
The meeting between Hunt and his to be wife, right from the point where Hunt is visualising the drive
The scene where Lauda asks the mechanics about specifics of the car and how to make it better
The scene where Lauda’s would-be wife offers him a drive back and refuses to believe that he is a race driver
The press conference at the Italian grand prix on Niki Lauda’s return and Hunt’s response to a question asked by a reported
The final scene where Niki Lauda and James Hunt meet at a hangar
Any mention of the movie would be incomplete without the brilliant and thoughtful dialogues and also the music by Hans Zimmer
Verdict: A must watch regardless of your interest in F1