Monday, January 14, 2013

Le Mans (1971)

Driving Really Fast Movie #2

Synopsis: It’s 106 minutes of Steve McQueen driving around in circles. (Seriously, that’s basically it)

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “Forty-five international racing stars join STEVE McQUEEN in this gritty, nerve-shattering recreation of the toughest car race on earth – Le Mans. Returning to France to compete a year after he’s been injured, an American driver (McQUEEN) finds himself drawn to the widow of a racer who was killed in the same accident.”

What Did I Learn?: At some point, a movie pretty much requires character development, dialogue and a plot.

You Might Like This Movie If: You’ve always wanted to see this made into a full-length feature film.

Really?: 1) Considering Lisa’s husband died in the previous year’s race, and she doesn’t understand why these macho idiots risk their lives to drive faster than anyone else, I’m not entirely sure why she’s in this movie, except to provide McQueen with a love interest. 2) Gee…that’s an awfully long commentary/public broadcast from the announcer about the rules of Le Mans. Would anyone in the bleachers actually be able to follow something that detailed?

Rating: Le Mans might be considered an experiment in minimalist filmmaking. There isn’t much of a story, and the first 37 minutes contain no audible dialogue from any of the characters! That said, Le Mans isn’t really a bad movie. The film’s near-documentary style is oddly compelling, and – unlike Driven – there aren’t any bad performances, or cringe-inducing lines. Save it for a rainy Sunday afternoon. 6/10 stars.

1 comment:

  1. I agree it's shot very much like a documentary and initially I was a little turned off by the lack of dialogue. However, the in car racing shots are done extremely well and really pull you into the film.

    Lisa is a potential "love interest" but she also humanizes the McQueen character. Most of the film is focused on the rush and look of racing but from the point of McQueen's crash/"mistake" - the racing takes a less prominent role.

    McQueen is there to drive very fast, win, and redeem himself for the past race. When he gets his second chance - replacing a driver on his team - those are still the goals. He drives all out and puts himself in a position to win but in the last 1/2 lap he decides not to pursue the win at all costs. He instead blocks the main challenger allowing another team Porsche driver to win. Mcqueen sacrifices a possible win for himself for the good of his team.

    In doing so he shows to Lisa and possibly himself that drivers can be more than just about going fast or winning. In a way he is saying to Lisa - your husband wasn't simply a driver who was killed - he was a man as well and while you may not understand what motivates a driver - remember and honor the memory of the man.

    For a really underrated McQueen film try "An Enemy of the People".


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