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Last year’s Ford vs Ferrari was a commercial and critical favorite that shined a spotlight on Formula 1 racing. Beyond Driven is a documentary that does the same thing by chronicling the career and impact of Lella Lombardi. Lombardi was the first (and up to now is still the only) woman to win F1 World Championship points. Her story has influenced a generation of race car drivers.
Beyond Driven is an interesting sports documentary. Many similar films try to find a mix between the public and private lives of their subjects. Director Riyaana Hartley makes the decision to focus mainly on what Lombardi brought to Formula 1. This is a refreshing choice. While it is nice to see a human quality to superhuman athletes, it can also derail the films. Beyond Driven’s tight emphasize ensures this never happens.
Helping the narrative are interviews with female F1 racers from today. There is an obvious admiration when they speak of Lombardi. Lombardi is an unsung hero in sports and the documentary does a good job of showing her impact. Though the vast majority of Beyond Driving is about Lombardi’s professional life, it does step away from the race track occasionally. Hartley only visits the driver’s life at a surface level, however. This is another smart direction to go in. Lombardi lived a very private life. A story about her personal life would not be the right story to tell.
Along with showing what Lombardi has meant to F1, Beyond Driving also shows how little has changed. There are examples of how women are still struggling to find a foothold in the sport. This includes looking at the difficulties a woman entering the male dominated field goes through. They fall under heavy scrutiny and are rarely lauded for any accomplishments.
Despite its long history, Formula 1 racing rarely gets recognized in cinema. There have been notable exceptions, but they are rare enough to stand out when they are released. Beyond Driving is an impressive look at the achievements of F1 driver Lella Lombardi. The documentary does a wonderful job of paying tribute to her legacy while also showing her importance.
Female driven thriller brings in crowds
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