Neon presented a film directed by Michael Mann Ferrari on Saturday during a panel at Deadline’s Contenders Film in Los Angeles, during which there was a discussion with Mann and stars Adam Driver, Penélope Cruz and Shailene Woodley.
The drama isn’t just about fast cars; the same applies to sadness. Both from the dangers of racing the treacherous Mille Miglia, flying through 1,500km of Italian streets at 200km/h in all weathers, in car bombs that often left drivers with a short shelf life.
Enzo Ferrari (driver), whose company is hanging by a thread because he is more interested in speed than in producing cars for the masses, struggles with two women in his life. Cruz plays Laura, a wife who cannot come to terms with the death of her son, partners in the company and living their lives, blaming her husband-woman for finding out the hard way that the human body – in this case a young man suffering from muscular dystrophy – it cannot be repaired the way a high-performance racing engine can. On the other side is Lina (Woodley), Ferrari’s long-time lover and mother of another son who is to inherit Ferrari, but Laura won’t let that happen.
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The quartet discussed the dual paths on which this drama unfolds. Explaining the appeal of this wild form of racing, which culminated in 1957 with a terrible accident that changed racing forever, Mann described it this way:
“Pedestrians crowded the road. “If I ask myself what I’m trying to influence the audience, it’s not looking at nice cars through a long lens,” he said. “I wanted to take you, the audience, and immerse yourself in this experience. Everything about the races and crashes is very accurate and has been meticulously checked. We tried to make it as authentic as possible. The race car mentality, the addiction to this terrible joy and dangerous passion, is at the heart of Enzo. He’s not a businessman, he’s a former senior racing driver who ran the Alfa Romeo racing team. Now he is interested in the business he built with Laura. Without asking, she mortgaged the wedding gift he gave her to build her first car because, with a 10 percent down payment, they didn’t have the money to buy the components.
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There is a moment in the movie when Laura confronts Enzo after learning about the other woman and child. Driver said it’s a pivotal moment where personal and business issues collide for a couple who can’t survive together.
“Both he and Laura haven’t dealt with their grief and it shows here,” he said. “His son with Lina wants to be confirmed, his wife finds out about his mistress, and in a factory where his priority is racing, not the sale of commercial vehicles, the indicators no longer work. He has the mentality of a racing driver; despite all the pitfalls and potential disaster, he is myopically focused on what lies ahead and cannot give in to emotions and weaknesses. You feel the pain coming to the surface.
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Cruz’s performance in particular is a tour de force.
“No one knew much about this woman Laura, but Michael and I spent time in Modena, visiting the real places they spent time, from the factory to the apartment. “I started to take it personally that we were honestly telling the story of this woman who represents the story of so many women in history,” Cruz said. “She could have done so much more in this company, but she just went through the pain of losing a child. She felt like a failure, just like Enzo felt that they were unable to save him. She was like a ghost, walking around trying to get through the day. She was meticulous and obsessive, and they had this bond. They called her a crazy, very complicated woman who scared everyone. After Michael and I did some research, we liked this woman. I took it personally when they didn’t see everything she did for this company.
Woodley’s Lina Lardi was the opposite, and it was no surprise that Enzo sought refuge with her. “Lina’s whole world was her son and protecting him,” Woodley said. “It was very different from Penélope’s challenge.”
Mann has been trying to make Ferrari history for nearly two decades. Why did it take so long?
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“There was nothing less commercial than car racing films, and this subgenre was characterized until then Ford vs. Ferrari he did well,” he said. “Grand Prix AND Le Mans it didn’t perform well and it became really difficult to install. I wouldn’t make it as a low budget movie. It had to be big, and it’s a big-budget film, completely independently financed.”
Watch the panel video on Monday.
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