Movie Review: Love The Beast

If you don’t feel like reading an overly long movie review on a car website, then just read this: SEE THIS MOVIE!
There are two categories of people in the world.
The first are those for whom a car is just an appliance. It gets them from A to B. Their car needs to be reliable, resonably comfortable, safe and economical. They know what their car looks like, they probably know the make and model, but will know little else about it.
The second are those for whom a car means either a little or a lot more than that. They range from those who appreciate some finer points (e.g. a car’s design) to those who love a particular brand, or brands, to those who build, paint, or even race their cars.
This movie is made primarily for the second category. If you’re reading this site, you most likely fit that second category, whether mild or wild, and I can’t commend the movie highly enough for you. If you’re in the first category, but you’ve got someone in your life who’s in the second category, then you should see it too. It’ll really help you understand them.
Love The Beast weaves together a quartet of inter-related stories.

  1. The story of Eric Bana and his car, a 1974 Ford Falcon Coupe – The Beast
  2. The story of Eric Bana and his mates, for whom The Beast is a kid of campfire that they all gather round over the course of 25 years.
  3. The story of Ivan Bana, Eric’s dad, and his car, a Ford Thunderbird. This is the car that started it all
  4. The building of, racing of, and destruction of The Beast

The story takes you right back, albeit briefly, to Bana’s school days and the Ford Thunderbird his Dad always wanted, finally got, and which was used as the daily driver during Bana’s school years. Bana got the bug young, and when he was nine years old he saw Mad Max, which cemented his desire for a Ford Falcon Coupe.
With his Dad’s consent, he bought one at age 15 – a full three years before he was licenced to drive it. It was pretty beat up, too, and required a fair bit of work – which is the essence of the whole story.
Over the years, Bana and his core group of best mates tore down and rebuilt the car three times. As they all grew a little older, fixing the car was the only time they saw each other. The love of this car and what they’d done with it was the glue that kept them all together.
In 1996, the group prepared the car and Bana entered one of the premiere tarmac rallies in the world – Targa Tasmania. They were a completely devoid of experience, but they did well and finished third in their class. More than that, the experience lit a fire for motorsport that Bana would pursue over the next 10 years whenever he wasn’t making movies.
Love The Beast closely follows the culmination of that journey: his entry in the 2007 Targa Tasmania. With the car completely rebuilt (again) and putting out around 600hp, the team comes to Tasmania again.

You’ve probably already heard what happens to the car and there’s plenty of film from their 4 days of Targa, including the accident, to show you the fullness of their experience.
The accident itself, and it’s aftermath, are covered in detail with great humility and humour. All of Bana’s mates are in Tasmania as part of the support team and the concern they have for him and his navigator (one of the group of mates) is heartfelt.
The movie is shot and edited in a pretty basic manner. I don’t know if they meant for it to be this way, but there’s quite a few instances where the sound was out of sync and the vision cut to a type of test pattern. I can only assume it was deliberate, to add to the home-movie feel.
Aside from Bana, his parents and friends, the movie features cameos from Jeremy Clarkson, Jay Leno and Dr Phil. They’re there to explore the inter-relationships between the various people and the car.
Clarkson makes a good point about relationships with cars, then goes on to make a total git of himself. I was almost expecting Bana to reach across the table and go all Incredible Hulk on him.
Leno’s appearance is marked best by the sheer expansive nature of his car collection. It really is breathtaking and hearing about it, hearing about his dedication to the vehicles is very interesting. There’s a few clips where Bana appears on his TV show, too, and one of them is the funniest moment of the whole film.
The one who surprised me was Dr Phil. I was expecting a total cheese-fest with him, but he really was interesting on the subject of relationships and attachment and probably acquitted himself the best of the three.
Around half of the film was shot at Targa Tasmania, which is really exciting for me from the point of view of talking to all of you about it. This is the state where I live and the footage from the race is absolutely fantastic. I felt really pleased to have our little island showcased so well and I hope you enjoy it.
I don’t know if this has been helpful. I think it’s probably too long-winded. What matters is that anyone with an interest in cars will be able to relate to the themes in this film. The long-term nature of the hobby, the friends you make through it, the experiences the hobby can bring you.
If you’re a car nut in any way, then make sure you get to see this film. It’s human, it’s very funny in places, it’s down to earth, exciting, humble and it will relate instantly to anyone with a passion for just about anything.
It really is worthwhile.

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