I know, I’m really behind on the buzz/interest for this movie, but rather than delve into far too much detail reviewing or analysing the film (I did quite enjoy it, though not sure which comes out on top between this and “Rush”), I’ll recount the anecdotes of my experience watching the movie in the theater [moderate spoilers, btw, but it’s based on historical events, so c’mon]: I dragged my friend Tracey to see this with me—she was noticeably reluctant given that she’s not much of a gearhead and the runtime of the film is 2.5 hours. However, she has been known to scream “none of this is safe!” at the screen in a way that I find to be hilarious and adorable, so I waited until our schedules aligned, and she did not disappoint. Pretty much every race sequence I could hear her eyes widen and the soft staccato of ‘shitshitshit’ under her breath. The scene of Miles pushing the car to 7,000+rpm at Daytona caused her to leave marks on my arm from her nails and white-knuckle grip, but despite her discomfort at the dangers of racing on display, it ws obvious she was having a good time, and invested in the story.
Tracey had a few other comical moments; wishing Henry Ford II would eat ‘the great American Challenge’ of dicks (covered in syrup, so that he hates the texture even more, she said) whenever “The Duece” or Josh Lucas were onscreen and fucking up the aims of Shelby’s race team, or the childlike innocence with which she asked about what happens when a driver has to pee in the middle of an hours-long stint in the car. But once the Le Mans event began, she was serious and on edge again. She swore the problematic door that wouldn’t close (being fixed by smacking it shut) was foreshadowing that Ken Miles would be stuck in the car and burn to death. She locked eyes with me: “I will *not* forgive you if he dies. LOOK AT ME. NE-VER.” He makes it, don’t worry, I assured her. She still couldn’t manage to watch some of the racing action with rain or avoiding crashes.
Then I thought to myself: ‘I should leave out my knowledge that Miles dies testing the successor to the Ford GT40 after they win—hopefully, it’s merely mentioned as a text epilogue before the end credits and I can distract her.’ The race draws to a close, Miles gets shafted in the side-by-side finish, that’s the appropriate bittersweet moment in the overall victory in the story, time for the credits... Then I saw the team back at development of the new car, and my heart plummeted—I told her if there was ever a time to not look, this was it. Goddammit.
I think she had been preparing for that tragic moment during the whole endeavor, and despite me knowing Ken Miles’ fate, she took it better than I did. Thankfully, the somber ending didn’t sour her opinion of the movie overall, and neither did she actually hold it against me that I knew he didn’t make it. It’s been a while since Hollywood hit me quite like that. Oh, and she says I’m never allowed to do anything that dangerous—Tracey, I love cars as a hobby, not a professional racer—I lack the talent and the nerves to attempt anything in a competitive wheel-to-wheel setting. I told her that I have no intention of ever udertaking that kind of risk; though I can appreciate those who do.