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Ferrari's 'Rendez-vous' tribute is a dumpster-fire of epic proportions

By Andy Enright, 15 Jun 2020 Opinion

Ferrari's 'Rendez-vous' tribute is a dumpster-fire of epic proportions

We knew it would be bad. We just didn't think it would be this bad

If I was being charitable, I'd say that Ferrari's attempt at a tribute to Claude Lelouch's 1976 short 'C'etait un rendez-vous' was a good idea in principle. But it's not even that. It was a bad idea to attempt to bring Rendez-vous into the here and now. What's more, the execution is breathtakingly hamfisted.

The cancellation of the 2020 Monaco GP was the backdrop, and the ingredients of Lelouch back in the director's chair, F1 wunderkind Charles Leclerc at the wheel and Ferrari's beautiful 735kW SF90 Stradale as the chariot of choice combine to at least deliver the promise of some entertainment. But the most spectacular thing about 'Le Grand Rendez-Vous' is how toe-curling it all is.

Let's not forget that the original movie was an utterly outlaw execution. Lelouch really was hammering his Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 around deserted Paris streets, on kerbs, up one-way streets the wrong way, scattering pigeons and shocking onlookers. He had one spotter, who would warn him if there was anything to hit at a completely blind corner, but their radios failed, so Lelouch trusted blind luck. Clearly that couldn't be done today, especially with the corporate might of Ferrari putting its imprimatur on it.

Read next: Retracing the C’etait un Rendez-vous route through Paris in a Mercedes-Benz

The most damning thing about the 2020 version is that it's just not exciting. It's pedestrian for one very obvious reason. We're accustomed to seeing in-car footage from F1 cars at Monaco. Our brains are hardwired to that dizzying degree of speed. Put a vehicle that's significantly slower than an F1 car on the same circuit and it's not going to make particularly thrilling footage. In fact, for most people, it will be the slowest in-car footage they've ever seen at Monaco. That's a bad premise to start from.

We begin the video with almost a minute of footage of a girl at a flower stand, handling the flowers with all the care and dexterity of Tyson Fury demolishing a bag of Cheezels. This is actually Lelouch's grand-daughter, so perhaps she can be excused for not knowing what she's doing. Nepotism has its price. 

From there we get the in-car shots of Leclerc at the wheel, clearly wearing his 'sponsor's commitment' face. They've mounted a huge boom off the right-hand side of the car with a camera attached to it so that it needs plenty of clearance on right-handers. Being a clockwise track, Monaco has a lot of right-handers, so much of the footage looks as if one of F1's biggest talents is missing apexes by miles and generally driving like a hack.

While it's mildly diverting to see the harbour front at Monaco without the armco barriers and grandstands, it's frustrating that the car sounds so, well, lame. I'm sure it doesn't in real life, but the engine note of the SF90 hybrid is very low in the mix, and just generally drones away like a distant Gerni pressure washer, usually drowned out by wind noise or music.

Read next: Hollywood's best stunts and the unknown drivers who made them possible

So, having completed a lap, Leclerc doesn't pick up the girl and drive happily into the sunset. No. He stops outside the Hotel Monte Carlo where a host of suits wearing masks await him. In prime position is Prince Albert of Monaco, looking like a friendly neurosurgeon, giving our Charles a hearty double thumbs-up. Keeping the Grimaldi family happy is clearly a minor sub-plot, because we are then treated to the Prince getting a passenger lap, for which Leclerc considerately dons a mask.

Seeing the pair of them masked up like a couple of road trippers who can no longer stand the smell of each other's farts rather undoes the spirit of derring-do. At the end of the lap, the flower girl, greets them, hands Leclerc a bouquet, indulges in a coy elbow bump and poses for a picture as Albert performs the Instaboyfriend role. It could only be more perfectly 2020 if someone were to mace a policeman.

The final scene sees Leclerc and the girl in-car, daringly removing their masks. The look they exchange appears to be one of smug complicity as if they can't believe they got paid for this nonsense.

The good bits? The car looks stunning, Monaco always makes for beautiful B-roll, the two leads are a handsome couple and... well after that I'm struggling. Most of it just seems like an idea that probably should have been killed at the outset. This isn't the first Rendez-vous tribute and it won't be the last. Lelouch got his payday. For you, it's six minutes of your life that you're not going to get back.

 

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