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Rush
★★★☆☆
First run Theater cinema

Rush is a biographical movie about the personal and professional rivalry between Formula One drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) in the mid 1970s. Hunt is an English playboy with a devil-may-care attitude and Lauda is an obsessive, anti-social Austrian with an arrogant, no-nonsense approach to both racing and life. What starts out as a routine sports drama develops into an engaging character study of male relationships and competitive drive. Credit screenwriter Peter Morgan (dramatist of fact-based screenplays like The Queen and Frost/Nixon) for finding a compelling human drama in an unusual place.  Just as he did for football in Tom Hooper’s 2009 film The Damned United, Morgan makes auto racing come alive for non-fans by showing us the human faces behind all the ballyhoo.

Wholesome Hollywood stalwart Ron Howard, a director with perhaps the most illegible signature of all time, is an odd choice for this high-octane picture; but he fashions a film that will appeal to an audience far broader than just race fans. The story rips along at the speed of the Grand Prix, with characters discarded as quickly as they are introduced and plot points rapidly rounded like laps in a course. At first this come across as unfocused but the cumulative effect is an authentic and dramatic portrait of this sport and its players. Rush is a also rare 1970s period piece that relies far less on the usual exaggerated costume and facial hair design, using instead the re-creation of the specific look of film and television of the time and, most of all, music. By music I don’t mean just pop songs from the years the story takes place; composer Hans Zimmer is able to evoke the mid-70s in his score while still serving the dramatic needs of the movie--I am consistently impressed with Zimmer’s soundtracks.

Hemsworth (Thor of Thor and The Huntsman of Snow White and the Huntsman) delivers his best performance yet, and Brühl (known for military parts like Frederik Zoller in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds and Lieutenant Horstmayerin in Christian Carion's Joyeux Noël) creates one of the most enjoyable movie characters of the year. The fact that both of these actors are playing real people makes their roles all the more exciting, and, especially for those of us who know nothing about the real men upon which this story is based, the suspense and emotional impact of the film keeps you on the edge of your seat. 

Directed by Ron Howard
Produced by Eric Fellner, Brian Grazer, Brian Oliver, Ron Howard, Andrew Eaton, and Peter Morgan

Screenplay by Peter Morgan

With: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Pierfrancesco Favino, David Calder, Natalie Dormer, Stephen Mangan, and Christian McKay

Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle
Editing: Daniel P. Hanley and Mike Hill
Music: Hans Zimmer

Runtime: 123 min
Release Date: 27 September 2013
Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1
Color