Love the Beast
If someone had told me in the mid 90s I
would be reviewing an Eric Bana directed film about his 1974 Ford XB
Falcon Coupe (the Beast of the title) I would most likely have laughed
at them, and thatís not just because I was still knee-deep in
high-school. Banaís rise to Hollywood superstardom after years of work
as a comedian on Full Frontal and his subsequent critical and commercial
success Ė thanks in part to his excellent choice of projects Ė now
allows him to do whatever he pleases.
His car being close to his heart, he jumped
upon the opportunity to make a slight and indulgent film (though Iím
assuming he didnít see it that way) about its restoration and his
participation in the Targa rally in Tasmania. Bana with his mates, a
specialist in Melbourne and, presumably, truckloads of cash, sets out to
race-fit his big Aussie muscle car and twenty year labour of love by
rebuilding it from the ground up. Footage of this process and the
subsequent race is interspersed with interviews with car-nuts Jeremy
Clarkson and Jay Leno, who are amusing, and Dr. Phil, who is...Dr. Phil.
Like many I assume, my association with
cars comes mainly through Top Gear, and so still feel familiar
with this obsession and the relationship one is able to form with a car
Ė or indeed any inanimate object. As Clarkson explains, having a
somewhat temperamental ride facilitates your rapport with the machine
because itís akin to the unpredictability present in human
relationships. Dr. Phil nicely articulates that itís important to
respect these relationships and do justice to them Ė just as we should
do with other people.
Such pronouncements are however, paper
thin, and much of the film trawls along slowly in an in an overwrought
mixture of family interviews and race footage. It feels more like a very
expensive and well produced home movie that Bana would show to his
mates. A great document for those involved, but not so interesting to
anyone else bar the most ravenous car enthusiast.
The single-disc Region 4 DVD also contains
an interview with Bana and an image gallery of his pride and joy (the
car, that is).