Adam Driver, Patrick Dempsey and Michael Mann gave an octane boost of star power to the 80th Venice Film Festival Thursday night, with their car racer biopic Ferrari welcomed warmly by the Lido audience.
Driver plays the legendary Italian car maker Enzo Ferrari in the period drama, which co-stars Penélope Cruz as his wife Laura Ferrari and Shailene Woodley as Ferrari’s mistress and the mother of his second son, Pierro.
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Pierro Ferrari was in the audience Thursday night, enjoying the raptous reception from the Venice crowd, which gave the film a good seven minute standing ovation, with Driver obviously moved by the response.
The film focuses in on a turning point in the auto magnate’s life — caught between the dual lives he is leading with his wife and mistress—and in the history of his car company, which is close to bankruptcy. Ferrari decides to bet everything on a treacherous 1,000-mile open-road race.
The cast of Ferrari received SAG-AFTRA waivers to be able to attend Venice and promote the film during the strike. Neon, which is not a member of AMPTP, will release the film in North America, with STX International handling worldwide sales. Neon is planning a Christmas release for the film and is counting on major buzz out of Venice to get Ferrari revving in time for awards season.
The initial buzz is promising. In his review, The Hollywood Reporter chief film critic David Rooney called the film “fast and furious, with a brain” which, despite a few “shaky Italian accents” manages to provide the “adrenaline rush of the hair-raising race sequences” with “emotionally charged domestic scenes,” particularly between Driver and Cruz.
Troy Kennedy Martin wrote the screenplay for Ferrari, adapted Brock Yates’ Ferrari biography Enzo Ferrari: The Man, The Car, The Races, The Machine.
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