Le Mans ‘66
Stars: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, John Bernthal, Catriona Balfe
This fun if slightly overlong racing drama outlines the efforts of the Ford Company to break Ferrari’s winning streak at the titular twenty-four hour race. Damon is Carroll Shelby a Stetson-sporting former champion racer who had to quit for health reasons. Now a car designer, he is hired by Ford to build a race car that will challenge Ferrari’s absolute dominance of the sport. While his stewardship of the project is well-respected, his choice of driver, the garrulous and notoriously short-fused Brummie Ken Miles (Bale) proves controversial. The first stretch of the picture, in which Shelby has to fend off the demands of the meddling management to sack Miles, is overextended, although enlivened considerably by Bale’s hammy but wildly entertaining portrayal of Miles, a racing genius whose volatile temperament is matched by his devotion to his family. The film picks up speed when it arrives at Le Mans. The racing scenes – destined to be referred to as ‘high-octane’ - are thrillingly gritty, with Margold keeping the camera at car level, accentuating every scrape and bump and rattle of the race. Non petrol-heads unfamiliar with the story are advised to avoid spoilers.