Beyond Driven: Review

Beyond Driven: Review

Beyond Driven tells the story of Lella Lombardi, former butcher’s delivery driver and ex Formula 3 Championship runner up who became the first, and still only, female driver to win F1 World Championship points at the Spanish Grand Prix in 1975. During one of the most controversial weekends in F1 history, set amid a notoriously dangerous Barcelona street circuit, spectator deaths, driver boycotts, a huge first corner crash, and a shortened race, Lombardi made history and recorded a fete that is yet to be bettered more than 45 years later.

Lombardi accomplished what seemed as impossible at the time; to finish in the top 6th in the highest tier of motor racing as a woman. She was a trailblazer who defied the social norms imposed by a more patriarchal society. Yet, it seems like her story was not as widely regarded as it should have been. Thankfully, this film delivers a powerful tribute to the late racer, highlighting the influence she had for other aspiring female racers.

However, Beyond Driven is far more than just the life of Lella Lombardi, as several female racers such as Amna Al Qubaisi and Tatiana Calderón are interviewed about their relationship with the sport. We get a glimpse of their accomplishments and the complications they’ve experienced as women going professional in a male-dominated sport.

The film really excels in placing women at the forefront of the story. All the talking heads are from women, which makes it feel more empowering for females to witness the representation of passionate and diverse female racers. The decision to only have female interviewees felt appropriate in order for the film to not feel suppressed by a male speaking on behalf of what is ultimately a story focused on women.

Along with the successes and accomplishments, the film also reveals the shortcomings that come with being a woman in the competitive racing industry. Some of the themes presented revolves around the extra effort these women have to put into training due to their different body physiques. In addition, it looks into the importance of sponsorships and how essential they are in allowing these women to continue racing.

The story of Lella Lombardi is depicted through some quirky animations and archival footage that prevents the narrative from getting one-dimensional. It does often teeter in between interviews from the other women racers which at times could feel disjointed, especially since these animations feel like short vignettes scattered across the entire film. This was the part where  I wish they would have tied her story more cohesively and maybe developed more upon her issues as a woman living in a time where competing in a Formula 1 race was unorthodox. At times, it feels like there are interesting points that were brought up but never further explained.

Aside from that, this is an important story to tell. When young females hear Amna Al Qubaisi talking about her first win in Arman and how she’s the first female Arab to win in kart racing, I can imagine the inspiration that would spark in them, knowing that they can not only dream big, but manifest those dreams with determination. It seemed like the filmmakers put tremendous respect into this film, making sure that these women were shined in a positive light.

Beyond Driven embraces its double entendre by centering the narrative around female racers and their pursuit to go “beyond driven” in order to thrive. The result is sure to inspire many.

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