LFF 2019: Le Mans ’66 – Review

Director James Mangold (Logan, Walk The Line), Christian Bale, Matt Damon and a true story about two racing legends proves to be a winning formula with Le Mans ’66, one of the most entertaining, and best films of the year.

Both petrolheads and the uninitiated will be unable to resist the charms of Bale’s Ken Miles and Damon’s Carroll Shelby, two determined racers who join forces with the Ford Motor Company in their plan to defeat top dog Ferrari at the notorious 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1966.

Le Mans ’66 isn’t just a film about the need for speed though as it perfectly captures the politics of business, and the beauty of friendship.

20th Century Fox

Although the film is called Ford v Ferrari in the US, a more appropriate title would be ‘Ford v Ford’ as the battle between the creativity and bureaucracy within in the business is what drives the story.

On one side you have the suits: the smug, expensively dressed Ford executives with pursed lips whose only purpose in life is to keep the cogs of their corporate machine well oiled.

And on the other side you have the racers: Miles, Shelby and their team are instead driven by their passion for the sport, and the desire to achieve the perfect lap.

20th Century Fox

Watching the two clash provides as much drama and tension as the racing itself, and while you do find yourself rooting for the fervent drivers, the measured film ensures you do understand why the businessmen have to be such bastards – at the end of the day, they have cars to sell.

The heart of the story though lies with the purest bromance of 2019, that between the chaotic Miles and smooth Shelby.

The dynamic duo play off each other brilliantly as Damon’s calm and collected Shelby balances Bale’s hot-tempered and haywire Miles.

Seeing the two characters interact is simply a joy to watch and while the film has a lengthy run-time (two-and-a-half hours), you will be left wanting to spend more time with the pair.

20th Century Fox

It is no wonder studio 20th Century Fox have put forward both Bale and Damon for the Best Actor Oscar as they deliver phenomenal, and very different, leading performances.

Bale certainly may steal scenes with his brilliant Brummie accent and constant yelling of ‘giddy up’ and ‘pillock’, but Damon’s Shelby is the emotional beating heart, and equally as funny with his cheeky nature.

Le Mans ’66 certainly isn’t a comedy, but it is funnier than most comedies this year. One particular scene featuring a move known as the ‘llama bite’ (you will get it when you watch it) will leave you in fits of giggles.

Racing lends itself well to cinema, it always has done and always will, so it is no surprise that Le Mans ’66 is simply stunning to watch on the big screen.

Glorious from the opening shots, the cinematography is wondrous, particularly in the thrilling climax where the movie really hits top gear.

Mangold places you in the driving seat using sound and intimate visuals to completely immerse you, from the throb of the engine, to the oiled sweat of the racer.

Le Mans ’66 really does have it all, making it a must see this year. So fasten your seat belts, as it is one hell of a ride!


Le Mans ’66 will be released in UK cinemas 15th November.

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Emily Murray

Emily Murray


Emily is a journalist and film critic who unashamedly cries at most movies having got too emotionally attached. When not at the cinema, she is at home cuddling her cat Holmes, whilst binge watching New Girl. She can be found on Twitter @emilyvmurray