At times Mosley: It’s Complicated is an engaging look at a man trying to form a legacy of safety when shrouded in a complex history. We have a film with such a significant story to tell that it can never provide us with enough time to do so
Chronicling the life and times of former FIA president Max Mosley, who reigned at the head of F1’s governing body from 1993 to 2005, the project takes a no-holds-barred approach to the story of his career.
With a lot of ground to cover, filmmaker Michael Shevloff brings his audience right to the new project that Max Mosley has in his life, car and road safety in India. A man who has consistently promoted the enhancement of the safety of road vehicles around the world, he is a man on a mission, and he is determined to win. Despite this, there is a larger story to tell, and that is of Mosley and his life and what a fascinating one it was. From the son of a Fascist politician to a racing driver, to team owner and eventually one of the top jobs in the sport. Max Mosley has done it all, and at times, not all for the better.
Of course, Mosley was a great influence on safety, and the documentary shines when it focuses on his journey to finding the first five-star safety car in India and the history of NCAP. When we see the efforts that he has put in and the team he has formed, we become enraptured with Mosley quite easily. He uses that determined personality and does well with it. More time in truth should have been focused on this instead of the private life of Mosley, but this most likely would not reel in as much of an audience if it didn’t go into his fight with the press.
So it is clear why it is included. It is just a shame that it had to be included. You really could listen for a large amount of time about Mosley’s time in Formula 1 and with Ecclestone as the heads of the organisation and briefly mention the scandal and then move onto NCAP, but alas, it wasn’t to be.
For the motorsport fans that this will ultimately bring in, there is a tonne of highlights, such as the political wars of FISA and FOCA and Spygate, all of which could have their feature-length deep-dive into. We see the configuration of the March Engineering team and the sad look culminating in Mosley watching the horrific Roger Williamson crash. You feel for him as he retells the story of the worries and vain hope that Williamson’s father had in the paddock, and it wrenches at your heart.
By now, of course, seeing a driver die would have almost had a dulled feeling to veterans of the sport due to, at times, drivers dying every couple of weeks. However, with Formula 1 having such an extensive library, it is these moments that we can see more of what Mosley was really like, and you could watch it endlessly. Sadly not enough is touched upon here, but that could easily be said for every section. As for a man who has lived an eventful life, we were never going to please everyone.
In an interesting moment in the Mosley: It’s Complicated, where it goes to when Max Mosley was a Formula 2 driver, and at the time, it wouldn’t be unknown for Formula 1 drivers to drop down and compete once in a while in the category. One such instance was when Lotus drivers Jim Clark and Graham Hill drove alongside Mosley at a wet Hockenheimring in Germany. Unfortunately, Clark sadly passed away that day in a crash in the forest. It is stated that he wasn’t wearing his seatbelt, yet Mosley was, and David Ward tries to state that this was because Mosley was always concerned about the science of safety.
However, it was well known that at certain tracks, some drivers didn’t wear their seatbelts as they predicted that it would be safer (and times rightly so considering the number of deaths in the sport at the time) for them to be flung from the car than to be trapped in it as it gets set on fire or crashes into dozens of trees. The excellent Grand Prix: The Killer Years details that period in a better way. Perhaps the avid Formula 1 fan with me has me notice such comments and become disengaged due to its broad stroke use and negligence in filling in the obvious gaps to paint a clearer picture of its subject.
Throughout Mosley: It’s Complicated, the looming presence of Sir Oswald Mosley, his father casts a shadow. Max can never get free of his father’s history, and as the last third shows, the press is all too kind to contradict themselves by connecting him to Oswald. Thus, we have a man who strove to be different from his father, be a Formula 2 driver, be a garagista and find success in a dangerous sport. Yet, he is always pulled back to a political side and, with misgivings of not having had a political career because of his father, a whiff of what could have been, crosses over the documentary.
As Michael Shevloff’s Mosley: It’s Complicated finishes, we like the late Max Mosley himself, come to the realisation that for all the good one can do in the world, trying to form a legacy that matters is a struggle due to circumstances that are mostly out of your control. An intriguing look at a man, yet one that perhaps doesn’t delve enough into what makes the former titan of Formula 1 tick. It remains a piece that should still be watched as for all of Max Mosley was. He wasn’t dull.
Mosley: It’s Complicated will be in UK Cinemas from 9th July, with tickets available here and will be on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Download from 19th July
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