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HEART LIKE A WHEEL

USA, 1983 (MIFF 1985)

Director: Jonathan Kaplan

Heart Like A Wheel spans twenty-five years in the career of Shirley Muldowney - the first American professional female race car driver, and three time winner of the World Championship staged by the American National Hot Rod Association. Happily married to her mechanic husband, Shirley shows her initial talents during the 1950's at illegal, night-time drag car meetings. Her innate abilities compel her, in 1966, to enter her first professional race. Initially stopped by astonished and predictably sexist officials, Shirley sets a track record in the qualifying run and her career begins in earnest...

An ambitious, uplifting film biography, compassionately and energetically brought to the screen by maverick director Jonathan Kaplan. The cast rarely put a foot wrong, particularly Bonnie Bedelia, in a virtuoso central role that should have secured her an Academy Award. Beau Bridges gives what is arguably the best performance of his career as Shirley's sloppy, but charming suitor. Although centred around drag car racing, Heart Like A Wheel effortlessly transcends its sporting background, and much credit should go to Kaplan's dynamic and sensitive direction.

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