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The 1976 Formula One racing season provides the backdrop for this fact-based drama about the rivalry between its two leading drivers: freewheeling British playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and obsessively disciplined Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl). Hunt's dissolute ways, only somewhat muted by his marriage to high-profile model Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde), draw his relentlessly focused chief competitor's jealousy and resentment, despite the burgeoning of Lauda's own low-key but durable romance with a chance acquaintance (Alexandra Maria Lara). In return, Lauda's humorless Teutonic temperament becomes the target of Hunt's contempt. As the contenders spur each other on to ever more dangerous tactics, director Ron Howard skillfully ratchets up the suspense - and the foreboding. Though the folly of their shared recklessness is highlighted at the film's climax, Howard not only portrays Hunt's sexual escapades unblinkingly, but tends to glamorize them as well. Not a film for the squeamish, or those lacking in maturity and discernment.

Watch out for: 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, frequent rough and crude language.

Rated: L, limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling; MPAA: R, restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2013