Michael Mann crashes (excuse me) in his ‘Shakespearean’ biography of Ferrari (**)

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There are metaphors that excite, others hurt and the most appreciated ones tickle. Of course, as George Lakoff and Mark Johnson have already shown, they also order the world. But neither should exaggerate. Let’s put, for example, Ferrari or Venice. They are names (in the first case of an Italian car driver and businessman, and in the second of an Italian city), but, in reality, they are metaphors. And that is known because one or the other is hardly heard, the imagination starts by itself, puts the first gear and, as soon as it gets lost, it ends at 200 per hour. That in the first case; in the second, the same, but in a gondola among a million and a half tourists. Be that as it may, what excites? And be careful that, as we get confused, it hurts. Now, let’s try to match the two: Ferrari and Venice. One second. Yes, it tickles.

With that idea, he went to the room at the Mostra on Thursday. Everyone is willing to fall in love with the great metaphors. ‘Ferrari‘ is the film that means the return of the octogenarian Michael Mann to the cinema since he filmed in 2015 ‘Blackhat: Threat in the network‘. It is a project based on the monumental biography signed by Brock Yates and which has occupied the director for more than ten years. In the title role, Adam Driver (some surnames are obligatory), the American who has done the most to pronounce English with an Italian accent (we already saw him in ‘The Gucci house‘). And next to him Penelope Cruz, the Spanish actress who best plays Italian (or vice versa). Otherwise, one closes one’s eyes and without having seen a single frame one already feels the wind, the acceleration and, of course, the tickling.

Well, because of the fact that the greatest disappointments come hand in hand with the greatest hopes, the metaphor ended up, at most, in metonymy, which is similar but poor. And you know, that of naming one thing for another. ‘Ferrari‘ wants and aspires to be an approximation of air ‘Shakespearean‘ to the drama of power, glory, love and other noble sentiments. Structured like a grand opera, it moves across the screen like a drama. so aware of himself and his importance which as it progresses turns every intended metaphor into simple outrage (let’s say, metafuero). Pompous is little.

Strictly speaking, it is not a biopic or ‘biopic‘. The tape stops at a certain year, 1957, in which the family and business life of the already old patriarch is at a decisive point. With the loss of his recent son, the protagonist finds himself in the position of selling his empire to a higher bidder (Fiat) before the imminence of death due to bankruptcy while the other son out of wedlock claims his place. in the world. Everything is resolved in a race (the Mille Miglia) that runs throughout Italy and in which the brand of the prancing Horse and Maserati, face to face. Is the thing metaphorical or not?

Well, suddenly, and to the surprise of the most elementary metaphorical taste, Mann abandons any intention of style or narrative. Not a trace of the filmmaker who reinvented and claimed digital technology as an expressive element on a par with celluloid in films like ‘Public Enemies‘; not a single contribution of a more or less novel nature from the director who best portrayed the night (and treachery) in films like ‘The dilemma’ o ‘Collateral‘; nothing like the feverish montage we saw in ‘Heat‘…

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