Formula One fan Lauren Hale got everything she hoped for and then some.
I started watching Formula One racing after my divorce three years ago, when I ended up back at home with my parents. My dad is an avid Formula One fan, so on the weekends during racing season that’s what was available to watch; besides, it gave me something besides politics to discuss with him. I was hooked after just a couple of races. The drivers, the courses, and dear God, the three second pit stops were mesmerizing.
During last season, there was talk of an upcoming movie by Ron Howard which would examine the seventies rivalry between drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Finally, a movie about an amazing sport by a talented Hollywood director driven by character detail and dedication to setting and cinematography. The buzz swelled into a clamor as the season progressed. The teasers started, the announcers talked about it, and it was pushed hard by those surrounding the sport.
The screenings started overseas this past season. As folks like Will Buxton and other notable journalists covering F1 grew more excited, I wanted to see the film even more. Even the drivers were excited about the film.
I followed the official movie account and managed to wrangle passes to an advance screening in New York City just last night. Rush is everything I hoped it would be from the very first teaser I saw while watching a televised Formula One practice in the middle of the night.
I have never attended a Formula One race in person, but Rush put me right on the track. The racing scenes are so powerful that the first one nearly brought me to tears. The amplified sound of the cars rumbling off as the lights went out to start the race not only shook the chairs, it rattled my very soul. The fellow next to me, however, covered his ears whenever the cars growled around the track.
Chris Hemsworth stars as James Hunt, Daniel Brühl as Niki Lauda, two casting choices that could not be more perfect. Howard uses the two actors to intertwine the Formula One world with the psychology of those who live inside it. These are men who put their lives on the line every time they get in the car. Howard presents Hunt and Lauda as pals and not just rivals. He acknowledges both men are passionate and driven but also exposes them as humans, allowing for vulnerabilities to be brought to the surface. It’s a delicate balance, a driven and passionate life with a tinge of death, one which Howard, Hemsworth, and Brühl portray brilliantly.
Hunt is a playboy while Lauda is the serious and dedicated racer. They both have a passion for racing but they attack it from different places. For both of them, their methods work even if they think the other isn’t going about it quite right.
They play off each other, with Lauda telling Hunt when returning to racing just 6 weeks after his near fatal accident at Nürburgring, “”Watching you win those races, you were equally responsible for getting me back in the car.” You realize, at this point, how intertwined the racers are in their respective wins and losses. They are driven by the achievements and failures of each other. It’s good to have an enemy, someone to keep you on your toes.
In an interview with John Hiscock for the Telegraph, Lauda says, “’James Hunt and I respected each other very much,” a point which is mentioned toward the end of the film.
I left the theater wanting to see the movie again. As I told my dad the next day, I could watch Rush over and over and over again. Sure, there will be dedicated F1 fans who will point out inaccuracies with tracks and other minor details, but overall Howard manages to respect the sport, respect the risk, and above all, respects the relationship between Hunt and Lauda. It’s even possible that non Formula One fans who see the movie may decide to check out a race or two after seeing this film.
“Don’t go to men who are willing to kill themselves driving around in circles looking for normality,” is one of the notable lines in the trailers for Rush. Yet, that’s exactly what I have found in Formula One Racing. It’s one of the few things which has turned into an anchor in my new life after divorce. It is part of the new me. I have always loved cars, driving fast, and the adrenaline it brings to life – how it makes you feel more alive than anything. F1 is all of that wrapped into one insane sport I cannot stop watching, and after you watch Rush, I’m willing to bet you just might end up hooked too.