The first big-deal flick at this year’s Venice Film Festival, and thus this year’s awards season race, is Michael Mann’s “Ferrari.”
The picture marks the four-time Academy Award nominee’s return to theatrical features, more than eight years after the Chris Hemsworth-starring hacker actioner “Blackhat.”
Even with rave reviews and copious awards nominations, Mann’s pictures have often been more celebrated by the critical community than embraced by general audiences.
Speaking of the critical community, at least those lucky enough to get the first glance at this newest offering, what is the word?
The Wrap’s Ben Croll in his review wrote: “Premiering at the Venice Film Festival and heralding a welcome return to the big screen after eight long years away, Mann’s high-verve biopic also marks a formal shift towards a more classical compositional style. The film forgoing the digital experimentation that colored Mann’s past four films for something closer to tone and tempo to prestige TV – that is, at least until the motors roar.”
Driver is getting a lot of notice and praise from critics for his performance as Enzo Ferrari.
Indiewire’s Ryan Lattanzio writes: “Driver’s performance is a fine one, flanked ever by emotional guardrails even in stressed-out moments… But Cruz hijacks the wheel from her co-star in a grief-dazed but always alert and forceful turn.”
Vulture’s Bilge EbiriIn writes: “In the hands of a less confident actor, this could have been a disaster, theatrical and awkward and unreal. But Driver makes Ferrari something indelible, a force not so much of nature as steel, asphalt, and death.”
Rafaela Sales Ross from IGN Movies writes: “Leaning away from blood-pumping thrills and towards family drama, Ferrari benefits from another great turn by Adam Driver and a handful of masterfully choreographed race scenes but is ultimately too risk-averse.”
The Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney wrote: “Ferrari is unlikely to go down as canonical Mann, lacking the glimmering, hard-edged stylishness of his best work. But admirers of the director’s high-intensity, muscular filmmaking will not go unrewarded.”
Variety’s Owen Gleiberman writes: “Ferrari really is like a ’70s movie. It has that intensity of grip, that layered human fascination, that cathartic honesty about what life is really about.”
The picture, released by non-AMPTP studios NEON and STX International, got permission from SAG-AFTRA for promotion even amid the strikes. As such, Adam Driver was there with Michael Mann in Venice, where he noted that a smaller distribution company was able to meet the “dream demands” of what SAG was asking for while “a big company like Netflix and Amazon can’t.”
“I’m very happy to be here to support this movie, and the truncated schedule that we had to shoot it and the efforts of all the incredible actors working on it and the crew,” Driver told the journalists in attendance. “But also, I’m very proud to be here to be a visual representation of a movie that’s not part of the AMPTP and to promote the SAG leadership directive which is an effective tactic which is the interim agreement.”
Mann’s propulsive and stylish melodramas have long focused on similarities and obsessive drives that men at the top of their respective professions share. Whether they focus on law enforcers (“Miami Vice,” “Manhunter”), outlaws (“Thief,” “Public Enemies”), boxers (“Ali”) or reporters (“The Insider”), his muscular dramas have made him among the more beloved auteurs among the critical community of the last few decades.