Love The Beast review (DVD)

A film star making a documentary about his hobby doesn’t sound like a great idea – Omar Sharif talking bridge, anyone? But hang on, for this is a watchable, exciting, even moving story about Aussie film star Eric Bana’s passion for cars.

Bana might be one of Hollywood’s most likeable stars now, but his history is a modest one – he grew up in a Melbourne suburb with adoring parents. His dad was into cars, and young Eric shared the passion, eventually buying a precious Ford GT Falcon Coupe. Years later, Bana became the handsome star we all recognise, and used his cash to go home and restore the rusting car still resting in his parents’ garage. It’s when he enters The Beast into the Targa Tasmania road race that the pace literally picks up.

Bana’s team of navigator and mechanics are his old mates from school, and it says a lot about him that they are all still in touch and treat him like an ordinary joe. They all have the passion, but Bana’s parents, and wife Rebecca, reveal the other side of racing, the danger of injury or even death.  Intercut with some really terrific race footage – Tasmania looks beautiful – are interviews where Bana tries to discover what it is that makes people, usually men, fall in love with automobiles. Jeremy Clarkson, Jay Leno and Doctor Phil all attempt to explain the phenomenon and there are some lovely moments.

Doctor Phil tells Bana if he gives up racing he will deprive his own kids of their dad, because he will have lost his spark. A pro racing driver meanwhile describes amateur Bana’s attempts to complete the five-day Tasmania race as ‘nuts’, and he’s proved right when the film star wraps the car around a tree. Although he and his navigator and physically fine, the emotional impact on Bana is profound. He goes to New York to promote a film but can barely remember making it.

Love The Best is a surprisingly engaging look at man’s obsession with machines, with some insight, plenty of humour and a real feeling of warmth to it.

EXTRAS ★★ The brief clips of a Jeremy Clarkson interview in the main film is included in full, should you want to listen to the Brit drone on. There’s also a trailer.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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