Richard Mitchell on Ron Howard’s latest

We are living in the golden age of the biopic. Recent evidence includes Spielberg’s Lincoln and Steven Soderbergh’s magnificent and sensitive Behind The Candelabra. Coming soon (and already sweeping awards on the festival circuit) is the tale of Captain Phillips, discount victim of Somali piracy, with Tom Hanks in the title role. But first we have RUSH.

Charting the incredible true story of the 1976 Formula 1 World Championship, Rush is focused on the rivalry between F1 legends James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) and their bitter battle to win the title, as well as their complex relationship off the track. Featuring great acting from its two leads and excellent direction, this film is not to be missed.

Rush reinforces Ron Howard’s reputation as a filmmaker of prodigious originality and very creative technical presentation. Apollo 13 amazed with its zero-gravity special effects; Rush instead focuses on making every race feel as visceral as if we ourselves were driving the cars. The camera is everywhere, on wing mirrors, in helmets, even at one point following a drill into a wheel. When the film finally comes to the inevitable tragedy of Lauda’s crash during the German Grand Prix we are there in the flames, feeling every searing moment of it.

The character of Lauda is a difficult one. He is presented as a man who is very hard to like, but whom we can’t help but admire. He is driven by his desire to be the best, with a technical mindset and a focus on absolute perfection in his performance. He presents a challenge for any actor but Bruhl manages to find the humanity at his core. His performance allows the audience to catch of a glimpse of a very vulnerable person who is aware of his failings as an individual but through his own hubris is unwilling to change.

Hemsworth is perfectly cast as Lauda’s rival and polar opposite James Hunt, hard-living, womanising playboy with a far more romantic attitude to the sport, though it is Bruhl who gives the more impressive performance.Rush is a fine film, well worth getting to. It is exhilarating even if, like myself, you’ve little interest in motorsport, as a character study of two men so alike and yet so diametrically different it is unmatched in current cinema.