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Lamborghini: The Man Behind The Legend (Film Review)

3 min read

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Bobby Moresco writes and directs a film that is definitely earnest, and this is not completely to its detriment. Lamborghini: The Man Behind The Legend wears its love for the character and subject matter on its sleeve.

But something about the earnestness of this film leaves it feeling simplistic and lacking a deeper substance, which is a shame because it does have a central theme beyond car making excellence.

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The first act centres around Ferruccio Lamborghini, his best friend Matteo and his girlfriend Clelia. After returning from WW2, Ferruccio and Matteo want to create the world’s greatest tractor, half the cost and twice the speed as others on the market. The trio are portrayed as thick as thieves, but as the saying goes, mo money, mo problems. Eventually a tragic death changes things forever.

Time shifts in the second act to an older Ferruccio, now a successful businessman who has turned his attention to battling the titan, Enzo Ferrarri, played by Gabriel Byrne. Ferruccio assembles an elite team of legendary car makers to create the most beautiful car the world has ever seen.

There are some good elements about Lamborghini: The Man Behind The Legend but they are jumbled together by a ropey script and frankly, made-for-TV style direction. The younger Ferruccio (Romano Reggiani) does have charisma and a macho bravado, but, especially in the first act, the script gives him nothing to work with. It’s simply functional.

Once Frank Grillo takes over the helm, we start to see the seeds of something compelling. His performance adds more vitality to the character, even if his accent isn’t very convincing.

Lamborghini: The Man Behind The Legend is at its best when it turns its attention to the creation of one of the most iconic cars ever made, the 350 GT. In these scenes we are teased by the introduction of some potentially great characters, such as the test driver Bob Wallace, played brilliantly by Patrick Brennan, the veteran designer Franco Scaglioni (Andrea Bruschi) and young whippersnapper Gianpaolo Dallara (Leonardo Cecchi) but none of this is given any time to breathe.

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There is also a palpable tension between Ferruccio and his wife Annita (Mira Sorvino). She steals the show and brings out the best in Grillo as the neglected wife of a detached genius. However, this is not given time to grow like all of the other concepts the film tries to explore.

Ultimately the movie does try to have a core theme, it’s about the cost of greatness and how achieving greatness is littered with the corpses (sometimes literally) of loved ones and relationships. But where I think this movie goes wrong is by trying to be too broad, covering too much in a short run-time. It also doesn’t focus on the cars as much as it should. A movie like Moneyball demonstrates how you can focus on a really technical thing like sabermetrics, but turn it into a human story. The story of the day-to-day workings of a car maker can be compelling when you focus on the passion and drama of the creative process, the movie shies away from that much to its detriment. Also, the relationship between Enzo Ferrarri and Lamborghini is criminally undercooked, you could have framed this whole movie around that epic rivalry alone.

This movie is a mixed bag. The script is so on the nose that it sucks any gravitas from the movie, making it feel cartoonish, which is a shame because there are some good performances hidden within and by the end it does manage to create a cohesive piece of work with an actual message.

Lamborghini: The Man Behind The Legend is released on November 21st