From the Toronto Film Festival, Monday morning: First the good news. Ron Howard’s “Rush” is an adrenaline packed success for the director of “Cocoon,” “Apollo 13,” and “A Beautiful Mind.” Even if you don’t care about Formula 1 racing, you’re going to love Howard’s recounting of the famed 1976 rivalry between rock star blond god James Hunt and the determined Austrian Niki Lauda.
Working with an impeccable Peter Morgan script, and cinematography from the amazing Anthony Dod Mantle, Howard has made one hell of a crowd pleasing movie. I dare say that under proper conditions with a real campaign, the movie and actor Daniel Bruehl, who plays Lauda, would be in awards contention.
Lauda, if you don’t know, was in a terrible accident that year on the track. He suffered jaw dropping burns to the face and head. And still he came back to the race circuit. Hunt died in 1985 from a heart attack. He followed the motto Live Fast, Die Young and leave a pretty corpse. Chris Hemsworth is sure to attract the female audience into “Rush.” He’s the new Robert Redford-Brad Pitt, with long blond locks and the looks of a young Viking god.
“Rush” should be the rare exception to the rule that American films needn’t have a good story to play in foreign territories. It will be a smash, and it’s good.
By the way, at the premiere at Roy Thomson Hall, members of Hunt’s family, and Lauda himself made appearances. On stage, Lauda– a brave, brave guy– said he never realized the impact his own facial scars had on people until he saw the movie and saw the way an actor reacted to his character. It was a rare moment of self-realization shared with the general public– and nearly 40 years after the accident.