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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

1 (aka 1: Life on the Limit) review (London Film Festival)

1 yellow light

Action packed, with tons of amazing archival footage, but if you don’t already have an interest in Formula 1, it’s unlikely you’ll find one here.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): not a fan of Formula 1

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

If Rush piqued your interest about Formula 1, here’s the perfect companion piece: an action-packed documentary about the history of the sport, particularly its history as a killer, from its very beginnings through the 1990s, when safer cars and better safety consciousness vastly increased the likelihood of the drivers heading home at the end of a race. (There hasn’t been a fatality on a Formula 1 track since the 1994 crash that killed Italian Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna.) It’s a shame, then, that this film doesn’t share the same universality that Rush did — if you don’t already have an interest in the sport, it’s unlikely you’ll find one here. There’s tons of amazing archival footage — including lots of the real Niki Lauda and James Hunt, the rival 1970s drivers featured in Rush — but we never get a genuine sense of the drivers and other players (team owners, promoters, and so on) as characters in a grand human story. Great sports movies are always about more than the sport, but this one is pretty much just about the sport. And the oddly stilted narration by Michael Fassbender doesn’t help neophytes find a path inside.

viewed during the 57th BFI London Film Festival

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1 (2013)
US/Can release: (VOD Oct 1 2013)
UK/Ire release: Jan 10 2014

MPAA: not rated
BBFC: rated 12A (contains infrequent strong language and moderate injury detail)

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Rotten Tomatoes

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