Based on a true story and directed by James Mangold, Le Mans ’66 follows visionary American car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and the fearless British driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) as they battle corporate interference and the laws of physics to build a revolutionary race car for Ford in order to defeat Ferrari at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France.
When I think of my favourite directors, James Mangold doesn’t come to mind. But I think that might have to change. You just have to glimpse at his filmography to see what a talented film-maker he is. And Le Mans ’66 is the best of them. It is an absolutely stunning film with fantastic performances, beautiful cinematography, and fantastic sound design.
There are a few sports that I really can’t stand watching, and motor racing would top that list. But films about motor racing I seem to be a big fan of. Maybe it’s because of the high-octane tension and thrill of the race that makes them so exciting, or maybe it’s the often brilliant lead performances that make them so much more engaging, but I couldn’t take my eyes of this film.
Matt Damon undoubtedly gives one of his best performances as well, but I absolutely loved Christian Bale in this. It took me a while to figure out where exactly his accent was supposed to be from (I guess Midlands so I was technically right), but it was inarguably one of the best things about this film. I just love how Bale can go from a ripped superhero to a podgy politician to a scrawny Brit so flawlessly. He really is one of Britain’s best, and his versatility forever impresses me.
For a 152 minute film, it doesn’t drag at all. It is an incredibly engrossing and riotous ride to follow, with committed performances, an emotional and family-driven touch, and superb pacing. I can’t fault it, and will be placing it in firmly in my Top 5 of 2019.