‘Lamborghini: The Man Behind the Legend’ is a total mess.
Racing on the streets, scandalous love affairs, V-12s, and Enzo’s scarves: It shouldn’t take much to make a watchable film about sportscar development in 1960s Italy, especially if it’s written and directed by Oscar-winning Bobby Moresco.
Well, anyone can have an off day. We recently watched Lamborghini: The Man Behind the Legend and caught up with Smoking Tire podcaster (and Road & Track editor-at-large) Matt Farah to compare notes. Spoiler: All notes were bad.
Don’t read on if you don’t want plot point spoilers because you plan to see the
movie—but also, if you plan to see the movie, we can only say we warned you.
Elana Scherr: You saw this movie before I did. I saw your tweet saying that it was 90 minutes you’d never get back of your life. And then I watched it anyway.
Matt Farah: Yeah, I know, it was shit almost immediately.
Hannah Stein (Matt’s wife, shouting from across the room): Ask him what his expectations were for it!
ES: Good question. What were your expectations, Matt?
MF: I’m a Lamborghini fan. I’m a Lamborghini owner, and it’s a movie about cars. So how am I not going to watch it? And Ferruccio Lamborghini, nobody really ever talks about his character, the way they talk about Enzo Ferrari or
Carroll Shelby. So I was wondering what they’d make a movie about. I figured, worst case, it would be an entertaining kind of terrible. Instead, it was just a very sad kind of terrible.
ES: Stunningly boring. You think, at least there are going to be cars to look at. There were so few cars in this movie that I got up to get a drink and I basically missed all the cars. I came back and they were crashing in whatever race that was supposed to be, the Mille Miglia or something. And that was basically the last time you saw any cars.
MF: It was a regional pre-Mille event. That race was where they immediately lost me because Enzo Ferrari is there in a 166. And I know that the 166 came out in 1947, early 1948. So that sets our timeline for that race because Enzo (Gabriel Byrne as Enzo) is there talking about his brand-new car. So that’s the year. And these guys are just back from World War II, and they’re still kids. So already the years are funky. Then in the race, there’s a Porsche 356 Speedster, and there’s a Mercedes 190SL roadster. Those cars didn’t come out until 1954. So you’ve got your corny storyline and all that. But then they have this race occur in a space-time continuum that can’t exist.
ES: The entire timeline was screwed up, even to the point of the age difference between Enzo and Ferruccio. If you watch this movie, you’ll think, "Oh boy, Lamborghini was just a kid. Just a kid against Enzo’s grand old man." But they were actually 18 years apart, so if Enzo is supposed to be, I dunno, 60, Ferruccio shouldn’t look 30.
MF: Right! OK, so there’s that nonsense timeline. And then there’s this street race dream sequence thing that has nothing to do with the plot, that never resolves itself, and comes back multiple times in the movie using two cars from the company’s history that are 20 years after the movie ends.
ES: Oh my god, so bad. There’s no logic to choosing those two. It wasn’t even two equally famous cars of each brand.
MF: Exactly. There’s a Countach, which I get using. That’s an iconic design. But then you’ve got Enzo in a Mondial coupe. What are we doing here? You can tell some producers somewhere said, "We need to have Ferruccio and Enzo have a street race and pass each other." But they never had a street race. “Make it a dream sequence or something. But we need to have Ferrari and Lamborghini race each other, even though Lamborghini never built race cars."
ES: “Let’s just use it to show whenever he’s emotionally distraught; when he misses his son’s birth because he’s looking at a Lamborghini badge for his new tractor and then his wife dies."
MF: How about when his wife dies and in the very next scene he meets the replacement wife that his best friend is chasing after, and he just decides that she’s his after one conversation?
ES: Yeah, that was romantic. I understand how movies are made. I know that sometimes you have to fudge a timeline or you have to make things happen in a way that they didn’t because otherwise you just can’t fit everything in. I mean, human lives are so complicated. There are too many people. Sometimes you have to turn people into supporting characters, whatever.
MF: Ford v Ferrari is full of forgivable sins like that.
ES: Every mechanical moment is gibberish: talking about cast-iron valves and using a sledgehammer to put a wheel chock in front of a tractor wheel.
MF: That scene annoyed Hannah. That was Hannah’s most hated scene.
HS [shouting]: WHY WAS IT SO LONG?
MF: Imagine making a movie and deciding, "We’re going to donate 30 seconds of screen time to chocking a tractor."
ES: My most-hated scene was the dinner party where Ferruccio draws a really bad sketch of a Miura. I’m super over the idea of the single visionary. I do not like that storyline. It’s never true. And in this case, I think it’s a great disservice because Lamborghini did not design the Miura. He didn’t even want to build the Miura. Giampaolo Dallara and Nuccio Bertone designed it, and Ferruccio was won over by the idea of marketing and that it was the first supercar. That’s way more interesting than Ferruccio drawing it on a napkin to impress a cute girl.
MF: That is an excellent point. It is a serious disservice. I think my least favorite scene was the ending of the movie where he pulls out of a garage in a Miura, and you realize that you’ve been there for 90 minutes and basically nothing has happened. Other than him being shitty to his wives and shitty to his kid. There’s been no great controversy or tension that’s been overcome.
Oh, here’s another scene that really made me mad: Where he tries to call out Enzo for the bad clutches in the car, and Enzo tells him off and then gets in the back of a Rolls-Royce and gets chauffeured off like he’s some hoity-toity guy. Enzo drove around in a Fiat! They set up Ferruccio as the underdog farmer and Enzo as this high-society dickhead. In real life, Enzo wanted to race cars, but had a very kind of humble lowkey life and would not be chauffeured around in a Rolls-Royce. Ferruccio owned seven Ferraris. One for every day of the week.
ES: They just invented them and then made them less interesting than they actually were. I have seen some bad movies that I still liked. For example, the Snake & Mongoose movie about Don Prudhomme and Tom McEwen. It’s not a great movie. It’s also low-budget, but it’s very heartfelt. You can tell that the people who were working on it really wanted to tell a story. There’s a through line to the plot and there’s a bit of emotion to it. This just felt like a money grab or something. Someone was just like, "Oh, I have access to somebody who has a 350 GT. Let’s make a movie about it."
MF: There are a lot of terrible movies that I love. I mean, I like Cannonball Run II. Have you ever seen Speed Zone? Speed Zone is awful. But it’s also funny. This was lazy and inaccurate and made no sense historically and wasn’t cast well. Just every element of moviemaking was at a two. It’s rare when you see a movie where every single possible choice is wrong.
ES: Yeah, I’m trying to think if there was any moment in this movie that I found enjoyable. I mean, at the very end when they opened the garage and there was a Miura, I was pleased by that because the entire time my husband Tom and I were joking that we wouldn’t see one. That they would just keep mentioning it, but we would never see it because they couldn’t afford to rent one.
MF: I would’ve liked to see what happened to his buddy that he screwed over in the beginning. Where’s that guy? We thought we’d see him at the end in some kind of wrap-up. “Random tractor guy owns 25 percent of Lamborghini still and is sitting on a yacht on the Amalfi coast."
ES: Maybe he gets together with the second wife, who you also never see again.
MF: This was a disappointment in pretty much every way a movie could be a disappointment. I have no redeeming thoughts.
ES: So, are you ready for next year and the Ferrari movie or Brad Pitt’s F1 movie?
MF: They couldn’t possibly be worse.
Did you watch Lamborghini: The Man behind the Legend? Did you watch it after you read this? We tried to warn you. Leave your own movie thoughts in the comments.
Like a sleeper agent activated late in the game, Elana Scherr didn’t know her calling at a young age. Like many girls, she planned to be a vet-astronaut-artist, and came closest to that last one by attending UCLA art school. She painted images of cars, but did not own one. Elana reluctantly got a driver’s license at age 21 and discovered that she not only loved cars and wanted to drive them, but that other people loved cars and wanted to read about them, which meant somebody had to write about them. Since receiving activation codes, Elana has written for numerous car magazines and websites, covering classics, car culture, technology, motorsports, and new-car reviews.
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