Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara
THE screenwriter of this sports biopic about two great Formula One rivals — James Hunt and Niki Lauda — is British writer Peter Morgan, the man who brought us The Queen starring Helen Mirren and The Deal, the TV drama about the Blair/Brown power agreement. Morgan must be our top screenwriter, and what he specialises in is the intrigue of two mammoth figures from history squaring up to one another.
His last great success was Frost/Nixon, and if you saw this film, released in 2008, I’m willing to bet that the intense, brooding exchanges between these two titans captured in this film was one of the first things to cross your mind when the news of David Frost’s death hit the headlines two weeks ago.
Morgan has teamed up with the director of Frost/Nixon again for this latest dual character study, and it is being hailed already as a compelling and intriguing piece of cinema.
British racing driver James Hunt was celebrated in the Seventies not only for his derring-do behind the wheel but also for his playboy lifestyle. His greatest rival, Austrian Niki Lauda, is portrayed here as more pragmatic and blunt to the point of rudeness.
The story starts as two separate tales of their rise to prominence in the glamorous and dangerous world of Formula One. What they shared in common was a privileged background, which they both turned their back on. They meet in spectacular fashion for the ultimate race in 1976 at the Nürburgring in Germany.
The script is tight and funny and intelligent, the characterisation intriguing, as you would expect of a Morgan project.
Howard uses some of the tricks he employed with Apollo 13 to recreate the danger and excitement of the race by concentrating on minute detail with the camera and using clever sound and music effects.
The spectre of death hangs over this tale of male hyper-egos, and it’s riveting stuff.