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For professional racecar drivers, it cannot get better than Formula 1. Out of the few men who compete in Grands Prix each season, there are usually a couple of drivers who stand out more than the rest. In 1975, these particular pilots were James Hunt and Niki Lauda.
“Rush” portrays the rivalry between two famous Formula 1 drivers during the highlight of their respective careers. The film, directed by Ron Howard, stars Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt and Daniel Bruhl as Niki Lauda. These two racecar drivers began developing their rivalry before either one of them was an F1 racecar driver. They met while they were still racing for Formula 2, a lower category of motorcar racing.
Hemsworth did a great job of depicting Hunt as a playboy racecar driver who loved life and living on the edge. Hemsworth embodies how Hunt made a point of living each day as if it was his last throughout the movie.
Likewise, Bruhl played the role of Lauda remarkably, clearly illustrating his strong work ethic and determination to win. Bruhl gave an amazing performance despite Lauda being such a complex character who faced trials most of us cannot even begin to imagine. Alexandra Maria Lara plays the role of Marlene Lauda, Lauda’s first wife. She married him uneventfully in a courthouse. This helps audiences to get a better glimpse of Lauda’s serious attitude and tendencies to get straight to business, even in personal matters. Despite this, Lauda and Marlene loved each other very much. Lauda’s feelings even lead him to realize how happiness can be an inhibition in an industry such as that of racecar driving, especially when the likelihood of being seriously injured or dying as a racecar driver then was much higher than it is today.
Audiences will also see Olivia Wilde as Suzy Miller, Hunt’s model wife who ends up leaving him after having to put up with all of the driver’s antics. Hunt’s marriage to Miller did not last more than a year.
The film focuses on the F1 careers of both drivers as they go from Grand Prix to Grand Prix throughout the course of a season. After the 1975 F1 season, which provided Lauda with his first World Championship, both racers were more determined than ever to win the 1976 season. The 1976 season, though, ended up being an incredibly dramatic one that would go down in F1 history.
In the 10th race of the season, which took place in Nuerburgring, Germany, Lauda had a terrible accident. The weather conditions on that particular racing day were not at all ideal as it was heavily raining. Lauda attempted to call off the race; however, most of the drivers took Hunt’s side and decided to go ahead.
This race ended badly as Lauda’s car failed and caught fire. Lauda was trapped in his car for about a minute before fellow racecar drivers managed to pull him out. The scenes that follow vividly depict the burn marks on his face and some of the procedures that were part of the recovery process. After the hospital scenes are over, the rivalry between Hunt and Lauda progresses as Lauda returns to finish the season. After the 1976 Nuerburgring race in Germany that took place mid-season and left Lauda with serious burns and injuries, Marlene continues to support him and stay by his side as he tries to recover and get back on track with his racing career.
The cleverly written script, along with an impeccable cast, makes for a fantastic movie that will have moviegoers laughing and feeling sympathetic for both of the main characters. “Rush” tells the story of not only two athletes, but of their determination and perseverance to do what they were most passionate about despite the dangers that came along with it. Formula 1 fans and those who know nothing of the racecar world alike will surely enjoy this film.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Follow Paola Ramos on Twitter: @PaolaRAwaves
As published in the Oct. 3, 2013 issue of the Pepperdine Graphic.