Friday, January 5, 2024


I went into Mann's latest film, skeptical to say the least.  Although I taught a college course on him, I really had not been fully moved by one of his films since The Insider (24 years ago!) and he hadn't made a film since Blackhat (8 years ago!)

All that to say, I was completely unprepared for the experience of Ferrari.  First off, nothing in Mann's body of work resembles it in look.  Gone is the cool, heavily stylized photography of the Thief-Ali period.  Gone is the self-conscious, digital experimentation of the Collateral-Blackhat period.  Ferrari finds Mann working in a much more naturalistic register, not only in the way the film is shot and production designed but also in the framing (again, gone are the myriad of jump cuts and extreme close-ups).     

Mann has always been incredibly precise in his location scouting, his character research, his attention to detail.  But what has always seemed like an almost unparalleled approach in truth seeking in terms of directorial preparation has always been expressed in a much more heightened and mannered execution.  For the first time the feel of how Mann approaches his work is echoed by what comes out the other end.

There has a been a knock on Mann his entire career about his female characters.  Their lack of dimension.  His lack of attention to him.  Penelope Cruz's Laura is his strongest female character to date and one any woman's director would be proud to claim as their own.

Certain works by certain artists force an entire reconsideration of an artist's career.  With Ferrari, Mann reminds us that at his heights he is every bit as effective as Scorsese, Coppola or any other filmmaker that has emerged since the end of classic Hollywood.  But, unlike his aforementioned peers, with Ferrari, Mann still seems to be growing at the tail end of his career, reaching heights that he's been chasing since the very beginning.    


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