“Learn to drive you pillock!”Review by Lily Taylor
If you like motor sport or good movies then you’ll like Le Mans ‘66. Matt Damon plays American born racing driver and designer Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale is British driver Ken Miles; and I don’t mean he plays Ken Miles I mean he literally metamorphosed to become Ken Miles. The film is titled ‘Ford v Ferrari’ in the US because it follows Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) as he brings the fight to ever dominant Enzo Ferrari (Remo Girone) on the track at the 24 hours of Le Mans. Shelby won Le Mans in ‘59 but was forced to retire from racing due to a heart condition; who better to head up Ford’s Le Mans team. Shelby hires Ken Miles to help him test and eventually race the record breaking Ford GT40. The pair face their fair share of adversity, mainly in the form of Ford’s senior executive Vice President and resident arsehole, Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas), but still go on to make history with Miles behind the wheel of the GT40.
I have to say I didn’t know a whole lot about the battle between Ford and Ferrari at Le Mans but having seen it, Ken Miles’ Story is one that deserved to be told. Christian Bale makes the movie with perfectly timed dry British humour and a depth of character that leaves you fully invested in his racing career. Ken Miles was a World War II veteran, a professional racing driver and a loving husband and father. I found myself really liking the character and rooting for him, even if Ford didn’t feel the same! Similarly, Matt Damon put in a great performance as Shelby and the relationship between to two makes the film much more than just cars driving round a track. The team struggle with dangerous break failure, a door that won’t close and some very dirty looks from some sinister Italians but still manage to bring the fight to Ferrari at Le Mans.
The cinematography in this movie was a really pleasant surprise, it’s not easy to film a GT40 travelling at 218 mph down the Mulsanne straight. Race scenes were filmed and edited brilliantly to give a polished viewing experience. For fans of motor sport I’m sure the racing content alone would have been enough to make a cracking film but Le Mans ‘66 is so much more than that. Miles’ backstory and relationship with Shelby adds a human element to the story, the hard core racing is expertly balanced with the drama and emotion of Miles’ personal life, particularly his relationship with his wife and son. You really don’t need to know a thing about racing to enjoy this film.
Although not quite a perfect film I think Le Man’s ‘66 does a brilliant job of coming exceedingly close. It’s a combination of dramatic story telling and good old fashioned motor sport. Ive heard a few complaints about the length of the film and I suppose I could concede to it being lengthy but I was so invested in Ken Miles’ Le Mans career that I just didn’t care!