Formula 1 documentaries – particularly those with aspirations to reach the big screen – have a pretty tough act to follow after Asif Kapadia’s utterly stunning Senna. I’m not sure I’d touch the subject with a barge-pole. Paul Crowder has taken the opposite approach with 1: Life on the Limit, choosing to dive in and tell the history of the entire sport.
Of course, the overriding theme of Senna and Rush – that this is, or was, an incredibly dangerous pursuit, becomes the thrust of this account also. That’s no bad thing, since it offers incredible context for the risks the subjects of those previous films faced. Though it doesn’t do much to settle my internal debate about whether F1 drivers are brave or mad.
Michael Fassbender’s sparing narration fills in details here and there, but it’s the accounts of those closest to the Formula 1 that really tell the story. Crowder has had access to many key names, though as the stories of new drivers are introduced, a F1 novice like me waits with bated breath for their first talking head, fearing a dark turn.
1: Life on the Limit can’t help feeling like a bit of an also-ran after the loud celebrations for Senna and Rush*, and it can’t manage their polish either. The stories are fascinating, but the interests of those non-diehards might not last and I fear there isn’t enough depth for diehards. Mileage will vary.
1: Life on the Limit is in UK cinemas on January 10th.
*As far as Rush is concerned, I much preferred the BBC’s documentary approach, Hunt vs. Lauda, which dealt with the true nuance in their relationship.