Rakesh's movie talk
Le Mans (1971)

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Directed by Lee H. Katzin
Written by Harry Kleiner
Starring Steve McQueen and some European dudes and gals (I don't know)

This is one of those moment when I am forced to be slightly prejudiced in my review, because of the power of its star. To be honest, I was bored during three quarter of this movie. I also realised how much I loved good dialogue.

The problem is simple, there was no dialogue (with exception of PA announcement) until half an hour into the movie. And worse, we are not even given much of the famous close ups on Steven McQueen's face, and we do get one, it is behind the mask and helmet. This film begs for another viewing.

Le Mans as most people know is the famous 24 hours race set in France. The year is 1970 and the Ferrari and Porches teams are fighting each other on the track. McQueen is on one side, and a couple of French looking guys are on the other.

Now, what sets this movie apart from the other racing movie is that it is almost entirely devoid of strong characterisation and dialogues. This is minimalism at its most, err..., minimum. McQueen is well known for his minimalistic ways. A trifle facial expression here, and a couple of lines there and that what he does in most of his movies. It works with him, all the time and it takes a certain amount of greatness to achieve that. But I can't vouch for the same for the rest of the actors in this movie. I don't know how much they were paid, but they got to be a waste. Should have taken most of it and paid the stunt drivers. Which brings us to ....

The race itself. If you are familiar with F1 races shown on TV these days, then there is nothing much to shout about. Yes, some superb editing did do some sprucing up job here and there, and couple that with close up of McQueen's eye glaring from behind the mask, you get some cinematic standard cinematography. Otherwise, nothing great. Most of the times, it just goes on and on like the F1 laps before the final ones. In between, you do get some quiet moments with McQueen and some beautiful chick, but they don't interest you much.

This is strictly for racing and McQueen fans only. I fall in the latter category, and yet I found myself yawning so many times. I heard McQueen, a racing enthusiast who did most of the stunt driving and motorbike riding in his movies, lost some money helping to finance this personal project of his. Thank god he did more interesting movies after this.