The cliché says “if you go in with low expectations, you won’t be disappointed.” That cliché should come with an addendum specifying that not being disappointed doesn’t mean the end result will be a net positive. For example, if you decide to watch a movie you know is going to be bad from the trailer, you will still have a lousy time watching the whole thing. Case in point, Lamborghini: The Man Behind the Legend.
If you are telling the story of the car manufacturer behind the most outrageous sports cars in history (and every once in a while, some of the most beautiful), I’m not sure it needs to be the ultimate Dad-pleaser, like Ford vs. Ferrari. It also doesn’t need to be a mood piece about talented but obsessive men, like Rush. But what it needs to be is fun and outrageous. The biopic of Ferruccio Lamborghini, if it’s not going to be good, at least needs to be a spectacular trainwreck. Or, in true Lamborghini tradition, a spontaneously overheating engine that burns the car in seconds.
Instead, Lamborghini: The Man Behind the Legend is dull. So dull that it looks and feels like an MCU movie. So dull that you barely even see the bloody Lamborghinis. So dull you wonder if its writer and director (we’ll get to him in a minute) understands what the notion of an Italian Sports Car entails. Dull as in this movie is basically a bunch of overlong scenes that are coherently put together, but not in any way that elicits emotion, tension or excitement. This is … the Olive Garden of movies about Italian car manufacturers.
If you only have a passing interest in automotive history, you will still know Ferruccio Lamborghini’s origin myth: As a successful industrialist in post-war Italy, he had an enviable collection of future classics of Italian design, including several Ferraris, which as it was traditional for sports cars of the 60s, were plagued with mechanical issues. He brought his concerns to the man Enzo himself, proposing a partnership to improve production. Enzo, being Enzo, took his feedback to heart. By that I mean he told Lamborghini to go back to his tractors. Lamborghini took Ferrari’s feedback to heart, by which I mean he dilapidated his industrial empire by kickstarting the sports cars division and by creating the most iconic and/or beautiful cars of the late 60s, 70s, and 80s. Eventually, Volkswagen would buy the brand and make it profitable by becoming the entry-level car for all footballers recruited for European Leagues.
Never forget: Enzo Ferrari being a complete asshole was as influential in the automotive industry as the il Commendatory himself.
Now, I don’t know if the last two paragraphs amused you, but I’m confident they were more amusing and informative than the entire 99 minutes of this movie. A movie that doesn’t show the ups and downs of the company during Ferruccio’s lifetime. A movie that only focuses on the design of their first production car (the 350 GT), and completely neglects the process of designing the Espada, Urraco, and, most important of all, the Miura. A movie that squanders the charisma and energy of Frank Grillo because he’s literally only in half of the movie.
The entire first half of the movie — 46 minutes of it — is dedicated to Ferruccio as a young man, as portrayed by Romano Reggiani, an Italian actor speaking in English but inflecting an Italian-American accent. As a matter of fact, the entire cast does this, whether they are American or Italian, with the exception of Gabriel Byrne playing Ferrari, who sticks to a raspier version of his Irish accent. And a lot of winking. Did I mention Mira Sorvino is also in this, as Ferruccio’s beleaguered second wife?
As you might imagine, this movie is a collection of biopic clichés, but not in any way that is fun or silly. It’s just repeated scenes of the wives telling Ferruccio they believe in him, followed by the wives chastising him, followed by scenes where he gives inspirational speeches to his engineering partners, followed by scenes where he is told he is too ambitious and/or he ain’t shit by a close one. Interspersed, there are scenes of races between vintage sports cars, but you can tell the footage is altered and the cars are only being driven as fast as the insurers allowed them.
However, there is one scene two-thirds into the first act that completely breaks with a movie duller than Lancia’s late-stage cars: Ferruccio’s first wife gives birth to his first son … and the scene is almost as graphic as the birth scenes in House of the Dragon, complete with the wife dying of a hemorrhage. SO. MUCH. BLOOD.
That’s when you realize this movie was written and directed by Robert Moresco, who wrote and directed Crash. No, not this Crash, that Crash. And everything starts making sense. At least we were spared iconic lines about the speed of life. That I’ll give him.
Alberto Cox looks down on your peasant infatuation with Ferraris or Lambos, he’s a bougie Alfa Romeo fan.