“You see, men love women, but more than that they love cars.”
â€“Christian McKay as Lord Hesketh
With that line, towards the start of Rush, we get to the crux of what brings the two main characters together. Take the comment to its full extension and James Hunt and Niki Lauda loved the challenge that racing presents. Both men went about their craft in completely different ways, but the fierceness of competition, especially against each other, drove them to their success.
Indeed the structure of the film is akin to a race, with Hunt and Lauda competing against each other off the track as much as on it. This ongoing rivalry binds the story together and helps build the tension until the 1976 Japanese Grand Prix which would decide the world championship.
The dialogue between the pair is, of course, part of the film’s success. Ron Howard (director) and Peter Morgan (writer) handle the two characters and those around them with great skill, bringing the viewer into the heart of their private battle.
Rush succeeds because of its authenticity. It’s true there are historical inaccuracies (there’s no mention of Hunt being stripped of his British Grand Prix win, for example) and clichÃ©d gear changes to indicate increasing speed are rare moments of Hollywood overtaking reality. And, yes, the pre-F1 careers of Hunt and Lauda have been condensed and elaborated to make a better piece of entertainment.
Overall, though, the film is true very to the era and, most importantly, true to the Huntâ€“Lauda relationship. For the most part the action sequences are very well crafted and the use of modern camera techniques complements the action and adds to the experience.
The recreation of Lauda’s accident, in particular, is both accurate and gruesome in its detail. The scene with Lauda putting on his helmet for the first time after his accident is another example.
AUSmotive has been charting the progress of Rush for over two years now and one of my great hopes was that the film wasn’t a case of style over substance. We’d seen and heard enough from Ron Howard to know that wasn’t likely to be the case, but the jury was always going to be out until the movie was released.
Thankfully, Howard has delivered an excellent film. I’m not sure if I liked it so much because it was a well made film about a wonderful Formula 1 rivalry or just because it’s a fine film in its own right.
I do know that I felt compelled to send out a tweet to @RealRonHoward immediately after the film was over. He may not read my thoughts or care too much about them, but all I can say is thank you Ron Howard for caring enough about this story and the fans of Formula 1 to make a film we can all be proud of.