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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Rush

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Chris Hemsworth and James Hunt star in a scene from the movie "Rush."
The 1976 Formula One racing season provides the backdrop for the fact-based drama "Rush" (Universal).

As he portrays the rivalry between that year's two leading drivers—freewheeling British playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and obsessively disciplined Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl)—director Ron Howard skillfully ratchets up the suspense, and the foreboding.

Yet, as scripted by Peter Morgan, Howard's film presents audiences with a range of morally unsettling elements as well as with an emotionally wrenching sequence involving gory wounds. Accordingly, it makes appropriate viewing neither for the squeamish nor for those lacking in maturity and discernment.

Hunt's dissolute ways draw his relentlessly focused chief competitor's jealousy and resentment; while Lauda's humorless Teutonic temperament becomes the target of Hunt's contempt. Recklessly, the two contenders spur each other on to ever more dangerous tactics.

Off the track, in a bid to mute his own excesses, Hunt impulsively proposes to high-profile model Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde). Though their union reins in his alley-cat impulses, it does nothing to curb his drinking or his self-centeredness, and the stage is set for future conflicts.

Lauda, meanwhile, falls for chance acquaintance Marlene (Alexandra Maria Lara), a fellow German-speaker who knows nothing, initially, of his fame as a racer. Though their romance is a predictably low-key affair, events prove their connection durable, Lauda's prickly personality notwithstanding.

The movie's climax highlights the folly of Hunt and Lauda's safety-disdaining feud. Still, viewers committed to the sanctity of life will note that the prospect of some fatal disaster is precisely what imbues both their sport—and this picture about it—with the dynamics of high-stakes drama.

As for the sexual escapades that make up a significant aspect of Hunt's private life, they're presented not only unblinkingly, but in a way that tends to glamorize them as well. Such bedroom scenes, however, take up only a tiny fraction of the running time.

Though it's equally fleeting, and set within the context of an extremely stressful situation, an exchange of dialogue showing one central character's obscenely expressed aversion to the ministrations of a Catholic priest can hardly fail to give offense to those who cherish the faith.

In the larger scheme of things, though, Hunt and Lauda's respective fates, detailed before the final credits roll, can be taken as a cautionary tale—one that would seem to vindicate moderation over decadence.

The film contains strong sexual content—including graphic casual sexual activity, an aberrant situation, and upper female and rear nudity—drug use, gruesome medical images, brief harsh violence, an instance of highly irreverent humor, an adultery theme, about a half-dozen uses of profanity and frequent rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Alphonsus Liguori: 
		<p>Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement.</p>
		<p>In his day, Alphonsus fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness.</p>
		<p>At the University of Naples he received, at the age of 16, a doctorate in both canon and civil law by acclamation, but he soon gave up the practice of law for apostolic activity. He was ordained a priest and concentrated his pastoral efforts on popular (parish) missions, hearing confessions, forming Christian groups. </p>
		<p>He founded the Redemptorist congregation in 1732. It was an association of priests and brothers living a common life, dedicated to the imitation of Christ, and working mainly in popular missions for peasants in rural areas. Almost as an omen of what was to come later, he found himself deserted, after a while, by all his original companions except one lay brother. But the congregation managed to survive and was formally approved 17 years later, though its troubles were not over. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus’ great pastoral reforms were in the pulpit and confessional—replacing the pompous oratory of the time with simplicity, and the rigorism of Jansenism with kindness. His great fame as a writer has somewhat eclipsed the fact that for 26 years he traveled up and down the Kingdom of Naples, preaching popular missions. </p>
		<p>He was made bishop (after trying to reject the honor) at 66 and at once instituted a thorough reform of his diocese. </p>
		<p>His greatest sorrow came toward the end of his life. The Redemptorists, precariously continuing after the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, had difficulty in getting their Rule approved by the Kingdom of Naples. Alphonsus acceded to the condition that they possess no property in common, but a royal official, with the connivance of a high Redemptorist official, changed the Rule substantially. Alphonsus, old, crippled and with very bad sight, signed the document, unaware that he had been betrayed. The Redemptorists in the Papal States then put themselves under the pope, who withdrew those in Naples from the jurisdiction of Alphonsus. It was only after his death that the branches were united. </p>
		<p>At 71 he was afflicted with rheumatic pains which left incurable bending of his neck; until it was straightened a little, the pressure of his chin caused a raw wound on his chest. He suffered a final 18 months of “dark night” scruples, fears, temptations against every article of faith and every virtue, interspersed with intervals of light and relief, when ecstasies were frequent. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus is best known for his moral theology, but he also wrote well in the field of spiritual and dogmatic theology. His <i>Glories of Mary</i> is one of the great works on that subject, and his book <i>Visits to the Blessed Sacrament</i> went through 40 editions in his lifetime, greatly influencing the practice of this devotion in the Church.</p> American Catholic Blog Ultimately there is no friend who can fully understand us, who can walk with us all the way. We must go forward and walk on our own in response to who we are and who we are called to be in God. —Thomas Merton

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