Monday, 11 November 2013

L.J. SPENCE'S STARTING POINTS: RUSH

L.J. SPENCE'S STARTING POINTS

8. RUSH (2013, dir. Ron Howard)

11/11/2013

*

I tend to be wary of films that say they are based on a true story, as just saying that doesn't make me believe what I am seeing is more believable. That job is down to the film itself - if a film about inner city gangs appears less convincing than "The Hobbit", then that is the fault of the filmmakers. Anyway, the Coen brothers put a notice at the beginning of their film "Fargo" to say it is based on a true story - it is not, but combines many elements of other events that are true, and Joel Coen is on record as saying that just saying the story was true gave a chance to do things that the audience would not expect, tricking their expectations. 

The other side to this is making a film that takes extreme care to fit the truth, in characterisation, period details, even in getting actors that look very similar to the real-life people they are playing, but in which the story itself is already much larger than life, even preposterous, before anyone starts making anything out of it. Ron Howard did it with "Apollo 13", and he did it with "Rush", repeating the hard graft in recreating "Frost/Nixon" with that film's scriptwirter, Peter Morgan. 

The website www.historyvshollywood.com shows how close the reported rivalry between the Formula One racing drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda in the 1976 season has been reproduced in "Rush", and how much the distractingly attractive Chris Hemsworth looks like Hunt, leaving Daniel Bruhl to fulfil the role of "The Rat".

The 1970s period detail is outstanding, again the product of good research, and the racing scenes are breathtaking, in a way that shows how exhilarating and dangerous Formula One used to be. It requires a lot of effort these days to watch Sebastian Vettel cantor around a far eastern track and win for the umpteenth time, especially when the amiable atmosphere of F1 today jars greatly with the healthy, but fierce, rivalry between the playboy Hunt and the technician Lauda, both wrestling with a sport that could kill them every time they race - lose that, and you are down to just self-satisfaction, not unlike a clenched fist from Andy Murray after another break point is won.

"Rush" simply takes all the elements of the story it wanted to tell, and told them very well, in order, in a well-made film as, with the story it has, it didn't need to do any more, and I recommend looking at the website I mentioned above, then seeing the film, as you won't be disappointed with either - just getting hold of a good story is good enough, but seeing a good team tell it well is blissful.

Mind you, if you are presented with a story about the rivalry between a person who puts himself back in a racing car after being scarred and nearly killed in a lethal fire at the Nurburgring, and another whose racing uniform carried a patch saying "Sex: Breakfast of Champions", you probably would have to make something out of it...

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