Cruz and Mann were dissatisfied – and one of Ferrari‘s goals became to reclaim the image of an extraordinary, fascinating woman either forgotten by history or despised in memory. The world of racing has always been dominated by men: recovering Laura’s story is a way of taking back control. Many may not know, for example, that Laura Ferrari was essential to Ferrari’s beginnings: it was Laura who provided the necessary capital to kickstart business, by pawning off a valuable wedding gift.
It is with Laura’s no-nonsense businesswoman stance that Cruz has the most fun – with her withering glare, unsmiling face, and absolutely masterful Italian woman waddle (if you know, you know). When Laura suddenly (comically, thrillingly) pulls a gun on Enzo near the beginning of the film, Cruz announces her unforgettable, electric presence – and unfortunately, whenever she’s not on screen, you feel her absence. Especially when you have to sit through Shailene Woodley’s “Italian” accent: which is the acting equivalent of dousing pasta in ketchup. Reparations are due to the Italian community at this time.
In Cruz’s hands, Laura is an unpredictable creature of impulse and bitterness – a wounded warrior with her shields up, still attempting to confront the impossible grief of losing her son to illness, and the indignity of that loss driving her husband to another woman, instead of closer to her. Cruz beautifully holds onto the jagged edges of Laura’s immense, gnarled grief – allowing its ugliness and corrosiveness to bleed onto the screen. One long, entirely silent shot, where Laura visits Dino’s grave alone, is unforgettable: tears steadily falling, Cruz smiles, as if refusing to allow the grief to take full hold in her son’s spectral presence.
Perhaps this was not the film’s intention, but Laura steadily becomes more complex and volatile, and therefore more fascinating, than Enzo. As eloquently and masterfully put by Twitter user @capybaroness, “every penelope cruz scene in ferrari: enzo you make a car TOO fast, you KILLED our son, i hope you EXPLODE for being a BAD HUSBAND. and thats why, i will give you fifty thousand dollars.” This very tension between hoping Enzo explodes and giving him fifty thousand dollars to save his egoistic and pride-driven pursuit of eternal racing glory – because in grief-stricken, contradictory ways, Laura’s ego and pride are as much fuel for the fire, too – is often the most interesting thing about Ferrari: more interesting than the man himself. In Ferrari, Laura finally becomes the most memorable part of her namesake’s history.