Lamborghini: The Man Behind the Legend — Dull Docudrama v Ferrari

The folks at Ferrari need a new agent. All their automotive racing rivals are making films where Ferrari is the cartoonish enemy. Where is their movie? How long must we wait for the Ferrari biopic version of a return diss track? It almost feels like an inevitability now, that every car brand should have its own movie. Sure, all the Dads rejoiced when they made Ford v Ferrari a couple of years ago (it’s simply a gripping account) but how can Lamborghini v Ferrari possibly match up?

As with many business docudramas, it could’ve been a Wikipedia article. What happens is that Ferruccio Lamborghini is a proud Italian tractor manufacturer and avid car collector. With his agricultural vehicle profits, he would buy a car for every day of the week. Eventually, he came into owning a Ferrari 250 GT coupé, which he found internally unrefined, equipped with a terrible clutch, and easy enough to modify into a more sporting road-ready vehicle than the stock car, with some minimal adjustments. All it took was a bad clutch and a fierce competitor was born, as Ferruccio entered the automobile market and established the Lamborghini brand.

It is hard to make an involving business docudrama or biopic. Sports cars are cinematic. Business is not. So, in this undercooked dramatic film, it is a bit of fun to watch when the cars are racing and not fun to watch when they are not. You may begin to understand what comic book movie fans feel about their beloved space battles when a Lamborgini Countach squares off against a Ferrari Mondial. Notably, it’s an awkward choice between one brand’s top-of-the-line car and the other brand’s bottom-of-the-line car. This is why poor Ferrari needs an advocate. The drama is pre-installed there, the juxtaposition of these brands and their cars ready to be unpacked for easily scored drama. It doesn’t really amount to more than a matter-of-fact retelling of a business’s story. Maybe you are interested in that business. The film is not going to convince you. You’ll have to already have that predisposition to really draw more value from the idea.

It’s the film’s job to convince everyone to care. It will not create any argument to get you more involved. Either you know more than the movie and can pick apart its minor details and minor inaccuracies or you know less and it will not get you involved enough to worry about it. The filming is so flatly televisual and uninterested that we cannot be blamed for our apathy. Even the driving sequences basically flatline. There is some joy in watching beautiful sports cars on screen. There always is and these cars are extremely beautiful. Having access to the company and some of its resources is very valuable here and pays dividends for some of the film’s reliability and authority on the subject.

The film was almost a very different film. Antonio Banderas was initially set to play Ferruccio Lamborghini but had some scheduling conflicts. Alec Baldwin was set to play Enzo Ferrari but had… well, much larger issues to deal with. That combination could’ve really been a curious exploration of these titanic automotive personalities. What we get instead still basically works. Frank Grillo is sufficient as Ferruccio Lamborghini and Gabriel Byrne is fine as Enzo Ferrari. Nowhere does the film find outsized success as a docudrama. It’s all by-the-numbers and bog-standard, remarks which have no place when describing the kind of cars the movie is about. The movie should be as inspiring as the cars. In that sense, Bobby Moresco’s direction never sells the movie and his move from a producing role in films is unconvincing. It’s awfully hard to make a business docudrama and this movie just reminds us how hard that can look.


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