Ferrari’s Le Grand Rendez-Vous is a flop…

Most films follow a formula, but in 1976 Charles Lelouch’s C’était un rendez-vous became a classic because he broke every rule. Ferrari’s remake is just a waste of time.

The film C’était un rendez-vous, or Rendez-Vous for short, is just eight minutes long. There is no dialogue, just one long shot, and there’s just one camera angle. It is about as simple as a film can be.

Yet it is timelessly evocative and exciting. If you’ve not seen the film, I won’t spoil it, just watch:

The actual vehicle used is a Mercedes 450SEL, with the sound from a Ferrari dubbed over. Maybe that’s why Ferrari decided to re-make the film in 2020. Here’s its effort:

Now when the email from Ferrari announcing the film’s release dropped into my inbox, I was excited. I love evocative car action films, and with Monaco, an F1 driver in Charles LeClerc, a Ferrari SF90 and the original Rendez-Vous creator…surely this was set to be a ripper. So, how good is it?

It’s terrible. The film disappoints in every way, thinks of some more, then disappoints again.

First off, there’s no apparent plot. There was the in the original – you could see the car was travelling somewhere fast, for some reason. You didn’t know why, hence tension. Here? No idea. You know the car is going on a circuit, a loop…but there’s no sense of wondering why. We’re told the 79th Monaco GP is cancelled, but that fact has no bearing at all on the story. The movie could have been shot at any time, the F1 track wasn’t even properly set up for the film.

Then there’s all the dramatic music which builds a sense of anticipation that is never met. Hello Ferrari…you make cars with one of the best engine and exhaust notes, ever. So just let it speak. They actually do that a little, but there’s quite a lot of wind noise and you don’t really get the full-blooded Ferrari aural experience. I also have the strong impression the tyre noise is dubbed on as it doesn’t sound consistent or in the right places. And if you look closely, the car changes gear when LeClerc doesn’t touch the paddles, yet he is also using the manual gearshift option. Whatever the answer, it’s inconsistent, so if you’re a car nerd, don’t look too closely at anything. Oh, is that a GoPro in shot too? Whoops.

Speaking of attention to detail, here’s the thumbnail from Ferrari’s YouTube channel. Drop a comment and shed a tear when you see it.

So why does LeClerc get applause for completing a lap of the F1 circuit? No idea. Maybe it’s because he’s wiggling the steering wheel quite a bit, which at the relatively low speeds he is travelling for that car seems rather unnecessary. I’d have liked to see a world-class driver take a world-class car to the very limit, not sideways, just to the limit of adhesion…but no, not to be, all very sedate and boring. At the end, if you make it that far, the film says the driving sequences haven’t been sped up in post-prod. Well, don’t worry we wouldn’t have thought so.

Then there’s the tired old romantic cliche of a pretty girl..I just don’t get it, other than providing a bit of eye candy and pseudo-love-interest for LeClerc. You’d think in 2020 after the demise of grid girls maybe we’d have managed a bit of equality, but no. The film would have been much better with say Jamie Chadwick doing a bit of car streetplay with LeClerc, Ferrari on Ferrari, and let the crew from Top Gear do the filming. As for the flowers…another mystery and not in a good way. The girl sells flowers, but what LeClerc is doing with them is anyone’s guess, he doesn’t seem very enthused and the point seems to be for Prince Albert to take a photo. Dramatic music building up to a racing driver being handed flowers in front of a roadcar! Tension! Climax! OMG!

And you know what? There isn’t even a rendez-vous, so the film is misnamed. Face slap.

I’m just so very, very disappointed with what should have been a classic bit of automotive cinematography. There’s no fun, no story, no action and no point watching.

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Automotive technical journalist specialising in 4X4s, camping, racecars and towing. Has designed and run driving courses covering offroading driving, winching, track racing and towing. Enjoys most things involving wings, wheels or sails. Follow me on Facebook and YouTube if you want explanations you won't find anywhere else!