Friday, September 20, 2013

MUST WATCH FRIDAY: Rush

Harlequin KISS/M&B Modern Tempted author Heidi Rice delves into the world of Grand Prix racing drivers and discovers that Chris Hemsworth can do a really good British Accent. Who knew?

This weekend I was feeling a tad fragile after two days in the company of Miss Kimberly Lang and Miss Abby Green (see Scarlet Wilson's AMBA post from yesterday!), so I wanted something soothing and upbeat in the way of cinematic entertainment. When my oldest son suggested Rush, the new film about the 1970s Formula One rivalry between drivers Niki Lauder and James Hunt, I was somewhat hesitant for several obvious reasons. Seemed to me this would be prime dick-flick territory, what with all the guys-in-cars action, and the only thing I know for sure about Grand Prix racing is, it's really freaking LOUD! Would my head be able to stand it...? But as it turned out to be a choice between this film and Insidious 2 (yikes!) I capitulated pretty darn quick..

And of course, there was the promise of Chris Hemsworth trying to do a British accent as James Hunt, which I must say intrigued me. As a child of the 1970s I do vaguely remember James Hunt in his heyday: the shaggy blond locks, the plummy accent, the chain-smoking and the playboy reputation. Couldn't remember a thing about his actual career or achievements as a Formula One driver mind you but I was about to be educated. In a big way.

Rush as it turned out, while having a lot of really thrilling car action, was so much more than just a film about motor-racing. It is in fact a fabulously character-driven drama which brilliantly juxtaposes Hunt's reckless, British playboy against Lauder's meticulous Austrian automaton. The whole film revolves around that central rivalry and how, despite their huge differences in character and technique, they both hit the top of their profession and eventually formed a grudging respect for one another - born out of a mutual aggravation. Hemsworth's Hunt is of course the much more flamboyant and charismatic character, boffing every woman in sight, smoking like a chimney and drinking like a fish, and driving with an addiction to speed that borders on a death wish. But Daniel Bruhl's thoughtful, almost emotionless statistician Niki Lauder - who has a pragmatic approach to risk that Hunt sees as killing what is beautiful about the sport - is actually the anchor to the drama. His terrifying crash - during which he roasted in a burning car for over a minute but still managed to survive - provides both the drama's blackest moment, and also it's pivotal turning point. For it was in his fight back from the life-threatening burns he sustained that Lauder finally learns to unwind a little, and Hunt discovers that sometimes life has more value than winning.

Peter Morgan - he of Frost/Nixon fame - has crafted another provocative script about two rival personalities which gives both insight into the real relationship between these two men while also adding a dramatic framework which is quite simply mesmerising at times. And all that car-action was completely entralling (despite being extremely loud), probably because the character drama behind it gives real emotional impact to every gear shift, burnt-out tyre and frantic pitstop. In other words, you can still enjoy it, even if the closest you've ever come to racing driving is trying to negotiate the school run in a six-year old Fiat Panda at 20 miles per hour.

And hats off to Chris Hemsworth, for sounding more British than Prince William!



Dare I say, the film as a whole is a real adrenaline-rush of a movie, but for all the right reasons.

Heidi's latest release - Maid of Dishonor - is currently available to buy in the US in Harlequin KISS and the UK in Modern Tempted and is part three in the fabulous Wedding Season Quartet, which also features books by Aimee Carson, Amy Andrews and Kimberly Lang. Chat to her on her blog, FB, Twitter (@HeidiRomRice) or via her website.

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