Also known as Ford vs. Ferrari, Le Mens ’66 is the story of Ford’s attempt to build a race car and the men who made it happen. As you would expect, this is a story of high performance engineering, corporate insanity and the clash of cultures that ensues when a huge corporation tries to move into a field in which it has no experience.
It is also a very funny film indeed.
The film centres on American car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale), who is brilliant, passionate and very much not the sort of team player that fits with the Ford way of doing things.
Shelby’s attempts to hold his team together in the face of the conflicting, and often obstructionist, motives around him provides the core of the film and this makes for a solid narrative base from which to deliver some of the wittiest and sharpest dialogue I have heard this year.
As a double act, Damon largely plays the likeable straight man to Bale’s irascible eccentric, although comedy gold is well and truly struck when Ken Miles’ wife, Molly (Caitriona Balfe) produces a deck chair.
Then there are the races themselves, culminating in the Le Mans endurance race of the title. These are genuinely thrilling, even to someone like me who has no interest in motor racing and to whom a car is nothing more than a machine for moving people around. Even the gear changes managed to be exciting.
Both Matt Damon and Christian Bale display a real charisma and their characters, for all their quirks, are genuinely likeable people about whom it is impossible not to care. So when the tension starts to rise, they can drag you to the edge of your seat and keep you there.