“It’s an honest portrayal of Scottish people ” – Our Ladies director speaks to EN4 News

Stop what you’re doing, grab your girlies and get ready to be hit by a wave of nostalgia.

For the first time in forever, there is a film based in Scotland, about Scottish culture that isn’t “Trainspotting”… no, it’s not “Trainspotting 2” either.

Broxburn born film director, Michael Caton-Jones, has stepped out of Hollywood film-making to step back into the culture he is more than familiar with and presents us with “Our Ladies”.

Based on Alan Warner’s novel “The Sopranos”, set in the year 1996, “Our Ladies” follows a group of Catholic schoolgirls from the Scottish Highlands who go on a trip to Edinburgh for a choir competition.

Focusing less on singing and more on boys and booze, the film is a coming-of-age for these six young Scottish ladies.

Credit: Sigma Films

Speaking exclusively to EN4News, Caton-Jones said that he felt he was the only one who could do it justice: “It was the first time I had ever read anything that was accurate and honest about the way I had grown up and I felt at that time. There weren’t many directors with my background.”

He first secured the rights to adapt Warner’s book 20 years ago as what was initially going to be a side project.

It has taken the director years to find financial backing to be able to make the film, with many places not getting the hype about a female-led film until recently.

“I found other people’s perceptions [of the characters] the strangest thing. ‘Oh, you can’t let them behave like that!’ Well, how can’t you?

“I remember my big sister and her pals, I thought they were great fun. I grew up in Scotland, with Scottish women and I don’t find them wallflowers, I find them equals.”

The actresses in the film are largely unknown.

Eve Austin, Tallulah Greive, Abigail Lawrie, Rona Morison, Marli Sui and Sally Messham star in the film and each have roots here in Scotland.

“What I was trying to do was make an honest portrayal of the way people are” (Credit: Sigma Films)

The director told EN4 News that he didn’t feel he could stuff this film full of recognisable faces: “The advantages of having a cast that nobody recognises is that it looks like a completely fresh view of the world, because you’re delighted that you’re finding these people and believing them.”

This is not the first time Caton-Jones has picked an undiscovered actor for a role.

In 1993, he cast the little-known Leonardo DiCaprio in his first film, “This Boy’s Life” and was thanked by DiCaprio in his Oscar acceptance speech for giving him his first role.

As someone who comes from “a very working-class background”, the film-maker feels it can be difficult to get opportunities, especially here in Scotland.

“I find there is a lot of talent in Scotland, but I don’t feel that there are a lot of ways of channelling that.

“I’m a nice working-class boy, and very few of them come through in the film industry.”

As a coming-of-age film, set and filmed entirely in Scotland, “Our Ladies” is one of the first of its kind in the film industry.

It has been hailed as a “must-see” by leading British film magazine, Sight and Sound, after its world premiere in London last year.

It is due to make its Scottish debut at Glasgow Film Festival at the end of this month.

“What I was trying to do was make an honest portrayal of the way people are and the way they behave and because I’m Scottish, I know these people intimately,” he said, “The things that happen to these girls could happen to anybody, anywhere in the world and it’s the universality of that that you’re trying to create.”

“Our Ladies” will be released across the UK on March 6 this year.

Anywhere but London: Event celebrating British movies set outside of the UK capital launches at Summerhall

Credit: EN4 News

After realising how many UK films are centred around London, Summerhall programmer, Tom Forster, decided to put on an event highlighting films set outside the big smoke.

Beginning with Danny Boyle’s cult classic Trainspotting, the event features films about working-class men in Sheffield and a local radio station under siege in Norwich.

I met up with Forster in Summerhall’s café, where he told me where the idea came from: “I thought ‘I wonder how many movies are not set in London?’ – It turns out not a lot!”

Tom tells me that beginning the event with Trainspotting was no accident: “It’s the first Scottish movie that comes to mind.”. I ask him if it’s a kicker that the plot drives the film to London: “Yeah” he laughs: “It is!”.

After this he goes on: “Most things get driven to London at some point, it is like a little black hole… money and talent, just everything drifts down.”. Coming back to the characters in Trainspotting travelling down to London Tom muses: “I think it proves the point quite well actually.”.

We move onto the themes of films set outside England’s capital: “Everyone’s typically very poor, deprived, drug addicted, up against werewolves, they’re in the army or they’ve come back from the army and they’ve got nothing.” Continuing: “They’re all set in really dystopian kind of apocalyptic looking landscapes.”.

A main driving force behind the event was to showcase a diverse rage stories set outside the capital: “There’s only two movies I can think of set in Sheffield, one looks at terrorism and the other looks at economic depravity… looking outside of London there are a lot of interesting stories to tell”.

To hear our full conversation check out the track below:

If you’d like to catch any of the films this event is showcasing, you have until the 29th of February to head down to Summerhall.

Film Review: ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ ★★★★

Direction: Marielle Heller
Screenplay: Micah Fitzerman-Blue, Noah Harpster
Cast: Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Chris Cooper, Christine Lahti
Length: 109 minutes
Rating: PG

Enchanting and surprising.  A golden adventure.

Using the 1998 Esquire article “Can You Say…Hero?” by Tom Junod as inspiration, this film follows witty yet cynical journalist Lloyd Vogel (Rhys), as he is tasked with writing a profile on television personality Fred Rogers (Hanks) and how this friendship will change the course of his life. For those unaware, Rogers was an American national treasure who presented the widely adored children’s series ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ for over thirty years. Overjoyed reactions from Oprah Winfrey and Arsenio Hall to his mere presence says it all.

Much like the medium of television, Rogers’ life and work is an interesting conundrum of both authenticity and artificiality. While the miniature town and city sets and puppets on the programme are toys by design, the host and the home from which he presents are life-size, also by choice.

For a person of such purity, Rogers is not a character as Vogel presumes but also not a saint as Rogers’ wife points out. He has, and wants, to work at it. Rogers is a just a man who believes in recapturing the imagination of childhood in adulthood and delivering that message to each demographic on-screen and off. Vogel finds this genuineness difficult to believe, setting the stage for a meeting of opposing minds but eventually kindred spirits. This is the story of how that happens.

For his supporting performance as Fred Rogers, Tom Hanks received Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations | © 2019 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. and Tencent Pictures (USA) LLC. All Rights Reserved

Originally filmed with live musicians at WQED Studios in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ has been wonderfully reenacted in standard definition picture format and aspect ratio to contrast the real world going on away from the camera lens. Much like the format of Rogers’ show, the film unfolds as a children’s story covering challenging adult themes, introduced and concluded by Hanks’ Rogers.

A film of this sweetness and delicacy necessitates that we suspend our disbelief and befriend our imagination once more. My advice is to watch with the soft embrace of Rogers and not the hard scepticism of Vogel, despite those qualities required of their respective work. Resistance is futile.

As it turns out, adults need Rogers as much as children do. As adults, we are trained to resist childish play, but playing brings us closer to our humanity. Playing as children was often the time when we were happiest and holding on to that ability to play may help us find fulfilment as adults. Rogers reminds us of this.

On the set of ‘Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood’ Matthew Rhys plays Lloyd Vogel, based on journalist Tom Junod who wrote Can You Say…”Hero?” after meeting Fred Rogers | © 2019 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. and Tencent Pictures (USA) LLC. All Rights Reserved

Similar to the end credits of ‘Saving Mr Banks’, where Hanks embodies Walt Disney, another American icon beloved by children, we are granted access to the original recordings of Rogers at work in archive footage of an episode of the children’s television programme. A nice touch. While Hanks played the supporting role in both films and shamefully wasn’t nominated for any major awards for ‘Saving Mr Banks’, after almost two decades he has received his sixth Oscar nomination for ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’. Another nice touch.

Both films dramatise the interactions between lesser-known writers and high-profile figures with the life of the former very much in the spotlight. With the scandalous exemption of an Oscar nomination, Emma Thompson’s dominating performance as Mary Poppins‘ author P. L. Travers in ‘Saving Mr Banks’ was the focus of most awards season attention however, this time, Matthew Rhys’ subtle turn as Esquire magazine journalist in ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ has been largely overlooked. An overly crowded leading category race, perhaps? Who can say for sure?

At one moment, Hanks’ Rogers breaks the fourth wall. Not with a weapon of course, but by staring down the camera lens at the film’s audience just as he does to the audience of children on his television programme. At the end of one episode, he says: “I like you just the way you are.” We need to say these words out loud to ourselves more often than we do. Or at least have somebody like Rogers who can do it for us. Of that I can say for sure.

‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ is in cinemas now.
★★★★

Film Review: ‘The Lighthouse’ ★★★

Direction: Robert Eggers
Screenplay: Robert Eggers, Max Eggers
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson
Length: 109 minutes
Rating: 15

Powerful suspense, hauntingly surreal.

Loosely inspired by an unfinished story from the father of horror himself – Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Egger’s The Lighthouse is a truly chilling journey that descends into madness.

Shot on black and white 35-millimeter film, The Lighthouse is something of a throwback to the works of Alfred Hitchcock, George A. Romero and other pioneers of horror-cinema.

The Lighthouse finds our leading men on an isolated island somewhere off the coast of New England, during the late 19th century. Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) takes a job as a ‘wickie’ (lighthouse-keeper) where he must serve a 4-week contract under the supervision of an elderly and poorly-tempered ex-seaman (Willem Dafoe).

What follows is a series of events that leaves both men questioning reality, their sanity and their relationship with each other.

The Lighthouse is, for the most part, very impressive. The isolated setting allows for a build-up of tension that will leave you squirming in your seat. This is complemented perfectly by the gloomy, black and white visual style.

The only issue with the film was the ending, which was left far too ambiguous. Audiences often appreciate filmmakers who can leave a little up to interpretation, but The Lighthouse relied too heavily on the watcher. Resulting in the ending being rather confusing and admittedly, a little disappointing.

The Lighthouse is in cinemas now.

★★★

Awards season podcast: BAFTAs 2020 preview

In the first of two podcasts, Adam Zawadzki and Ony McFadden preview the 73rd British Academy Film Awards.

 

Tune in next week for a preview of the 92nd Academy Awards.

Film Review: ‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’ ★★★★

Direction: Armando Iannucci
Screenplay: Armando Iannucci, Simon Blackwell
Cast: Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Peter Capaldi,
Ben Whishaw, Paul Whitehouse, Aneurin Barnard, Daisy May Cooper
Length: 119 minutes
Rating: PG

An unexpectedly escapist delight of independent cinema from the master of satire.

In a similar fashion to ‘In the Loop’ and ‘The Death of Stalin’, writer/director Armando Iannucci envelops this comedy-drama with his usual flair for surreal humour. While those previous projects focused on the power games played by political manipulators in gloriously absurdist style, they are much colder in comparison to his new release. And so they should be, if they weren’t then the chaos wouldn’t be as hysterical. Although all are undeniably beautifully crafted works, this film is set apart by its surprisingly romantic tone. After all, this is ‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’ from childhood to adulthood. A rather more emotional story of both struggle and success that is ultimately uplifting, as well as being hilariously bizarre.

A tale of two halves, each stage in the life of David Copperfield (Patel) is coloured in light and dark. From his idyllic childhood in the country filled with imagination to the poverty and humiliation of the factory in the city. From the eccentricity of his relatives Mr. Dick (Laurie) and Betsy Trotwood (Swinton), both of whom give brilliant performances, back in the country to the return to hardship after their bankruptcy back in the city. From falling in love and losing a friend to regaining financial control and being fulfilled by writing and companionship, this Copperfield story is injected with an eclectic cast of great British talent. Laurie, Swinton, Capaldi and Wishaw are able to take flight from the platform of smart writing; uproarious and melancholy.

‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’ Poster | © Lions Gate International (UK) Limited.

Nominated for an impressive 11 British Independent Film Awards, ‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’ won five including Best Screenplay for Iannucci and Blackwell, Best Supporting Actor for Laurie and Best Casting for Sarah Crowe. She is also nominated for a BAFTA in the same category, created this year, disappointingly the film’s only nomination there. Even recognition in the Best British Film category, where commercially modest but nevertheless critically acclaimed independent films overlooked elsewhere at major awards ceremonies usually do well, was also denied. It deserved better.

My only criticism, admittedly trivial in relation to the overall excellence, is that by condensing a large part of a life into two hours, a lot of breathing space for greater analysis is unavailable. With multiple characters and myriad locations to fit in, the fast pace of the film could have benefited from moments to pause. Conversely, no scenes or situations ever feel rushed while each of the major supporting players appear throughout with new material to develop their characters. But maybe that was the point; the high speed of unfolding events also keeps the film fresh and maintains our engagement in an age of ever reducing attention spans. And with that, I’ve solved nothing.

Actor Dev Patel in character as David Copperfield in ‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’ | © Channel Four Television Corporation 2020

Many people have asked the question: ‘What would you say to your younger self?’ As the very last words of the film, Copperfield says to his younger self, “Don’t worry. We’ll make it through and we’ll have quite the ride on the way”. Symbolic of the film’s warm nature from the beginning, we now have the answer in the most hopeful of endings. Refreshingly heartfelt and beautifully made, Iannucci has delivered an entertaining comedy and impactful drama that warranted more attention this awards season. Especially at the BAFTAs.

‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’ is in cinemas now.
★★★★

The British Academy Film Awards’ will be broadcast at 21:00 on Sunday 2 February 2020 on BBC One and HD. The BBC News Channel and HD will broadcast ‘Baftas 2020: Red Carpet Show’ at 17:15 and ‘Baftas 2020: Results Show’ at 21:30 on Sunday 2 February and ‘Baftas 2020: Extra Time’ at 00:30 on Monday 3 February 2020.

Film Review: ‘Bombshell’ ★★★★

Direction: Jay Roach
Screenplay: Charles Randolph
Cast: Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, John Lithgow,
Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton, Malcolm McDowell, Allison Janney
Length: 109 minutes
Rating: 15

A stylishly executed drama that captures the cultural zeitgeist.

Set in 2016, Megan Kelly (Theron), Gretchen Carlson (Kidman) and Kayla Pospisil (Robbie) have been sexually harassed by predatory Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes (Lithgow) but are at different stages of their lives and careers. News anchor Carlson is fired after angering the network and its audience before preparing to sue Ailes, Kelly is the current star news anchor questioning whether to come forward against Ailes, and Posposil is a new arrival at what she thought would be her dream job.

In ‘Bombshell’, we have a backstage pass to watch the high pressure and competition of 24-hour cable news where the camera is always on the move; panning, zooming and refocusing, reflecting the fast pace and constant rate of change. Transformed by subtle prosthetics and vocal register, Theron is particularly impressive as Kelly, delivering dialogue in voiceover and breaking the fourth wall (as do Kidman and Robbie) to provide us with context on Fox News and her place within it as she strides through the newsroom sets.

Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie in character as Megyn Kelly, Gretchen Carlson and Kayla Pospisil, respectively | © 2019 Lions Gate Entertainment Inc.

Director Jay Roach, who also helmed the HBO political drama films ‘Recount’, ‘Game Change’ and ‘All The Way’, brings much of the same class and flair for behind the scenes storytelling to this biographical drama as he brought to ‘Trumbo’, his previous cinema release. Also in voiceover is the shocking testimony from other survivors of sexual harassment at the hands of Ailes, an unexpected and commanding move.

Both ‘Bombshell’ and the Showtime limited series ‘The Loudest Voice’, which depicts the rise and fall of Roger Ailes over twenty years as he builds Fox News into the media powerhouse that exists today, have received significant awards season attention. While Theron and Robbie have collected Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for their leading and supporting performances in the film, respectively, Kidman and Lithgow were overlooked for their supporting turns. In contrast, Russell Crowe won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Ailes while the limited series was also nominated.

John Lithgow in character as Roger Ailes | © 2019 Lions Gate Entertainment Inc.

While ‘Bombshell’ focuses more on Kelly and ‘The Loudest Voice’ on Ailes, both projects recognise the pivotal role of Carlson in the downfall of Ailes. By stepping into the firing line, literally and metaphorically, to expose the sexual harassment by Ailes, other women were encouraged to come forward. But this decision was a huge risk considering the media machine and toxic culture that opposed them. It would leave their lives, career and relationships vulnerable to attack. After surviving assault in private, they would need to withstand further onslaught in public with no guarantee of effecting significant change.

Since 2016, there has been a monumental cultural shift in action for survivors and reactions against perpetrators of sexual harassment, with particular reference to individuals and industries in the public eye. But how much of the system has changed when the settlements for accusers are much lower than abusers, as highlighted at the end of the film?

‘Bombshell’ broadcasts this heart-breaking news from the women’s point of view.

‘Bombshell’ is in cinemas now.
★★★★

Film Review: ‘1917’ ★★★★★

A war drama of extraordinary technical and emotional achievement.

Often the simplest plots are the best for epic staging. Two young British soldiers, Lance (George MacKay) and Tom (Dean-Charles Chapman) have been charged by General Erinmore (Colin Firth) with preventing the planned attack by the 2nd Battalion of Devonshire Regiment who mistakenly believe the Germans are in full retreat but are actually tactically withdrawing. With field telephone lines cut, they must deliver the message by hand to save the lives of 1,600 men before the attack the following day.

A treacherous descent into destruction develops as the protagonists move cautiously through a maze of death. Like the soldiers, we’re held in a ubiquitous state of tension, by both the leading characters’ progress and the cerebral writhing of Thomas Newman’s score.

With each challenge Schofield and Blake surpass, the further they journey from relative safety adding to the sense of foreboding. Louder and softer the music groans, evoking the sound of far off shelling, and the image that while all is quiet here and now, it is only temporary as battles are raging somewhere and death is never far away.

Lance Corporals Will Schofield (MacKay) and Tom Blake (Chapman) make their way through the barbed wire of No Man’s Land in ‘1917’ | © 2020 Universal Pictures

Step by step, the characters walk the story through dangerously cramped trenches, hazardous underground tunnels and battle-scarred farmland. Completely isolated, in fear of their lives and only each other for survival, Schofield and Blake still press on. One wrong move could be their last. Just one story of true heroism representative of so many that fought, died and survived an unimaginable existence. The tragedy of war is inescapable. But life goes on.

An entire world has been created in ‘1917’. What unfolds before us is a miraculous combination of forensic planning in screenwriting and production. And the meticulous precision of acting and directing in order to execute what is essentially a cinematic play staged on location in real time but that never feels staged for effect. One-shot filming requires a faultless performance from cast and crew and all should be commended for the distinctive qualities this gives the film.

Schofield (MacKay) hauls himself out of a river of bodies to deliver a message that will spare 1,600 lives | © 2020 Universal Pictures

Violent sequences alternate with moments of great beauty. Death and life intertwine. Crossing the broken bridge, escaping the bombed town and running through open battle are all stand-out set-pieces. While Mark Strong, Andrew Scott and Benedict Cumberbatch add gravitas to pivotal moments, Claire Duburcq and Richard Madden provide sensitive relief. And then there’s George MacKay. Despite enduring such mental and physical extremities that are truly unbelievable in order to make this film as great as it is, he has infuriatingly been left out of the Best Actor categories this awards season. Thankfully, the film as a whole has not.

Winner of two Golden Globes (Best Director and Motion Picture – Drama) from three nominations, ‘1917’ has also been nominated for nine BAFTAs, including Best Film, and ten Oscars, including Best Picture. While Sam Mendes won Best Director at the Critics’ Choice Awards (in a tie with Bong Joon-Ho for ‘Parasite’), one of its three wins from eight nominations, ‘Once Upon A Time In… Hollywood’ won Best Picture.

An almighty gamble has paid off and the one-shot wonder of ‘1917’ should be handsomely rewarded as an iconic cinematic accomplishment alone. It deserves to be experienced on the big screen and will stay with you long after you leave the cinema. As the lone tree stands tall at the denouement of the film, so can the filmmakers.

‘1917’ is in cinemas now.
★★★★★

 

Billie Eilish shakes (and stirs) Bond fans

Tracks of the week reviewed: Selena Gomez, Shimmer, Soccer Mommy and The 1975

Billie Eilish shakes (and stirs) Bond fans

Billie Eilish has been recruited as the voice of the latest Bond film. Could this be to ensure the film franchise will exceed box office figures for its 25thanniversary?

On Tuesday, Billie Eilish announced on her social media that she is the latest talent to sing the 007 theme song, this time entitled No Time To Die.

The James Bond film series holds a target audience of men aged 12-40. Whilst this is a wide audience, it does not run parallel to the teenage girl demographic that Eilish appeals to, making her a contrasting choice for the latest instalment.

Many took to Twitter to criticise the choice…

Despite this, she has proven popular in the world of music and has won numerous awards, including one at the Apple Music Awards 2019. Eilish has also been nominated for the 2020 Grammy awards under six categories.

Billie_Eilish_.jpg

Billie Eilish performing at Pukkelpop Festival 2019

And some fans were even excited at the prospect of Eilish doing the next single.

Susan Jolly, 35-year-old James Bond fan puts Billie on the same level as the talented artists that have sung previous Bond theme songs.

“I watch films very often and I quite enjoy James Bond. They usually have quite a high-profile person doing the songs, like Adele or Sam Smith, and Billie Eilish is quite a big name. She’s had a fast rise to fame, so I think it’s good for her to do the song.”

By picking Eilish, the director, Cary Joji Fukunaga, has also taken the bold decision to move away from the usual sound designated to the James Bond theme tune.

24-year-old film enthusiast, Gregor Thomson, thinks Joji Fukunaga is taking a step in the right direction: “I think it’s good they’re using younger people now and they’re also changing their genre from their more classical, really good voice to more centric voice.”

The Bond films have reached varying box office totals over the past fifteen years, hitting 1.109 billion US dollars in 2012 with Skyfall and then plummeting to a total of 880.7 million US dollars in 2015 with Spectre.

Daniel_Craig_–_Film_Premiere_"Spectre".jpg

Daniel Craig at the 2015 premier of Spectre

Joji Fukunaga has also cast Rami Malek, 2019 Academy Award winner for Best Actor, in the latest instalment of the film franchise. With a talented pool of actors and Billie Eilish bringing in a brand new audience, it is possible to see No Time To Die exceeding Spectre’s box office totals.

No Time To Die will be released on 3rd of April 2020 in the United Kingdom. Watch the trailer below.

Film Review: ‘Le Mans ’66’ ★★★★

Director: James Mangold
Screenplay: Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, Jason Keller
Cast: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Caitriona Balfe, Noah Jupe, Tracy Letts, Josh Lucas
Length: 152 minutes
Rating: 12A

You hear the race cars before you see them, the roaring vibrates from the screen and fades in and out from the opening to the end credits. Roaring into action with a literal road race, ‘Le Mans ‘66’ focuses on the 24 hours of Le Mans, the oldest active endurance sports car race in the world and the rivalry between Ford and Ferarri to win it. Indeed, the film is titled ‘Ford v Ferrari’ in almost every other territory. Brace yourself for a showdown of technical excellence in speed, skill and endurance as we go behind the scenes of the enduring annual endurance competition and the car manufacturers that vie for victory.

‘Le Mans ‘66’ (Ford v Ferrari in other territories) film poster

Introduced in quick succession are Carroll Shelby (Damon), an American car designer and engineer, and Ken Miles (Bale), a British professional race car driver whose relationship drives the film as much as the exceptionally mounted racing action sequences. Miles’ wife Mollie (Balfe) and son Peter (Jupe) are no mere background scenery characters, as can often happen in films anchored on two leading roles. Henry Ford II, CEO of Ford (Letts) and Leo Beebe, Senior Executive Vice President of Ford (Lucas) also get their moments to shine.

In an effort to rebrand its image for a new generation and become a car-maker of artistry instead of mere practicality, Ford attempts to buy a bankrupt Ferrari who have won the last four Le Mans events. But Ferrari choose Fiat, prompting Ford to challenge their racing dominance at Le Mans by designing, building and testing a car of their own in order to beat Ferrari at their own game. That’s the plan anyway. In ninety days, Shelby and Miles, backed by Ford, must fight the limits of automotive engineering, the corporate structure and occasionally each other (you won’t be disappointed).

Academy Award winners Matt Damon and Christian Bale star in ‘Le Mans ‘66’

Gorgeous cinematography presents the film as shot in a perpetual hot summer sunset, adding to the exotic nature of sports car racing and the people that make it happen. Shelby and Miles are heat stroked and grease oiled to within an inch of their lives, leaving only the overpowering petrol fumes to the imagination, especially while the racing game is underway at various events preceding, as well as, Le Mans.

Attention to minute details like these are representative of a data-focused yet mechanical industry where time, weight and size can mean the difference between success and failure, separating the winners from the losers, becoming legends or footnotes in history. Essentially a period film set over half a century ago, for all the time and effort spent in search of the perfect lap the passion for driving and love for machines is what envelops us most.

Surprisingly romantic and entertaining to a fault, the film benefits from well executed editing and dynamic sound design. Commanding monologues allow for a fireworks display of charismatic acting performances from Letts, Lucas, Damon and Bale. After four Oscar nominations this decade, will Bale finally win Best Actor next year? While his Dick Cheney in ‘Vice’ brought him close, ‘Les Mans ‘66’ could push him over the finish line.

Prepare for high stakes in the front seat as drama punctuates the levity to draw the film away from mere satisfactory viewing. A soundtrack of drums and guitars, acoustic and electric, with tyres screaming and engines revving pulsate through the film, instilling a genuine adrenaline rush for each characters’ destiny. Armed with a propulsive script and muscular production values, ‘Le Mans ‘66’ is quite simply a cinematic tour de force.

‘Le Mans ‘66’ is in cinemas now.
★★★★

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