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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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Jacopone da Todi: Jacomo, or James, was born a noble member of the Benedetti family in the northern Italian city of Todi. He became a successful lawyer and married a pious, generous lady named Vanna. 
<p>His young wife took it upon herself to do penance for the worldly excesses of her husband. One day Vanna, at the insistence of Jacomo, attended a public tournament. She was sitting in the stands with the other noble ladies when the stands collapsed. Vanna was killed. Her shaken husband was even more disturbed when he realized that the penitential girdle she wore was for his sinfulness. On the spot, he vowed to radically change his life. </p><p>He divided his possessions among the poor and entered the Secular Franciscan Order (once known as the Third Order). Often dressed in penitential rags, he was mocked as a fool and called Jacopone, or "Crazy Jim," by his former associates. The name became dear to him. </p><p>After 10 years of such humiliation, Jacopone asked to be a member of the Order of Friars Minor(First Order). Because of his reputation, his request was initially refused. He composed a beautiful poem on the vanities of the world, an act that eventually led to his admission into the Order in 1278. He continued to lead a life of strict penance, declining to be ordained a priest. Meanwhile he was writing popular hymns in the vernacular. </p><p>Jacopone suddenly found himself a leader in a disturbing religious movement among the Franciscans. The Spirituals, as they were called, wanted a return to the strict poverty of Francis. They had on their side two cardinals of the Church and Pope Celestine V. These two cardinals, though, opposed Celestine’s successor, Boniface VIII. At the age of 68, Jacopone was excommunicated and imprisoned. Although he acknowledged his mistake, Jacopone was not absolved and released until Benedict XI became pope five years later. He had accepted his imprisonment as penance. He spent the final three years of his life more spiritual than ever, weeping "because Love is not loved." During this time he wrote the famous Latin hymn, <i>Stabat Mater</i>. </p><p>On Christmas Eve in 1306 Jacopone felt that his end was near. He was in a convent of the Poor Clares with his friend, Blessed John of La Verna. Like Francis, Jacopone welcomed "Sister Death" with one of his favorite songs. It is said that he finished the song and died as the priest intoned the Gloria from the midnight Mass at Christmas. From the time of his death, Brother Jacopone has been venerated as a saint.</p> American Catholic Blog By immersing our lives in the rhythm of the season, charity can flood our souls and fill us with the happiness for which we were created. We awake Christmas morning prepared to celebrate the birth of our Savior not as a memory but as a profound experience of God’s redemptive love.

 
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