“Sometimes the closer you get to death, the more you really live,” is a logline for Academy Award winning director Ron Howard’s (A Beautiful Mind, Frost/Nixon) motor sport film Rush, premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival September 8th. Critics who have seen the film are declaring it “tense and thrilling, inspirational and magnificent.”
Scribe Peter Morgan (The Queen), who worked with Ron Howard previously on Frost/Nixon, wrote the screenplay. The story chronicles the real events of the 1976 rivalry between two Formula One racing legends – Austrian Niki Lauda, played by Daniel Bruhl (Inglorious Basterds), a prickly, shrewd careerist; and the British James Hunt, played by Chris Hemsworth (Thor), a self-destructive hedonist and charmer. (Hemsworth went to extra lengths to get the part, after Ron Howard initially rejected him on his large size. Chris lost weight and made an audition video.)
Variety says of the Peter Morgan script, “Modern audiences have been conditioned by the sheer volume of bad screenwriting they encounter day in and day out, to be wary of scripts that articulate their own themes as eloquently as humanly possible. Rush is such a film, a rare thing where every utterance is ‘on the nose’ and yet so perfectly calibrated, it would be a crime to force characters to bury their thematic scenes in subtext. Who needs reality-show naturalism when you can have life-and-death philosophy delivered at 200 miles per hour?”
The Toronto Sun is calling Rush one of the Top Ten most promising Oscar contenders at TIFF. It’s supposed contenders, in no particular order, are:
- The Weinstein Company’s August: Osage County, the drama with Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts
- Fox Searchlight’s 12 Years A Slave, from director Steve McQueen
- A Song Can Change Your Life, by John Carney, starring Keira Knightley, Adam Levine and Mark Ruffalo (still seeking a U.S. distributor)
- Warner Bros. Gravity with Sandra Bullock
- The Weinstein Company’s Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom starring Idris Elba
- Paramount’s Labor Day, the Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin vehicle
- Dreamworks’ The Fifth Estate with Benedict Cumberbatch
- Focus Features’ The Dollar Buyers Club starring Mathew McConaughey
- The Weinstein’s Philomena, starring Judi Dench.
Rush was shot in England and Germany. Peter Debruge gives director Ron Howard suma-cum-laude on his white-knuckle racing scenes. “Howard plays it anything but safe. He seizes the opportunity to elevate the racing sequences, integrating compact digital cameras directly into the automotive machinery itself. He places the audiences eyes where they could never fit, as cars hurtle forward at top speed, pioneering an intuitive visual logic. To witness this level of storytelling skill, where two leading men are so enthralling, it is impossible to tell where the practical photography ends and the visual effects begin.” Our own Tim Falkenberg, who saw the completed film this past spring, assures us that Rush is not to be missed, regardless of whether or not you care one iota for Formula One racing. “The opening sequence positively grabs you, but in the end it’s all about Hunt and Lauda. The film is like a mosaic, each scene filling in the bigger picture of the lives of, and rivalry between, these two figures.”
Rush was financed and produced by Guy East’s and Nigel Sinclair’s – Exclusive Media, Brian Oliver’s Cross Creek Pictures, and Andrew Eaton’s Working Title Pictures. Olivia Wilde and Alexandra Maria Lara also star.
Universal Studios is putting its pedal to the metal and releasing Rush exclusively in New York and Los Angeles on September 20th, and nationwide on September 27th.