This insightful biography of drag-racing champ Shirley "Cha-Cha" Muldowney (the underrated Bonnie Bedelia) begins with the foreshadowing image of little Shirley driving her father's sedan and continues with her first race in 1966. Meeting with the usual sexism, she surprises all by
breaking the track record on her qualifying run. Her career soars, but her marriage to mechanic Jack Muldowney (Leo Rossi) ends in divorce when he realizes that he can't handle his wife's success. Shirley then turns to banned driver Connie Kalitta (Beau Bridges, who also appears in the similarly
themed GREASED LIGHTING, the story of black NASCAR driver Wendell Scott's triumph over racial prejudice) for support and love as she goes on to win the National Hot Rod Association World Championship three times.
The film is marred by a lackluster narrative, failing to inspire or move us in any way, but there's no denying Bedelia's beautifully nuanced performance. She's deserving of projects that are the equivalent of the forthright intelligence she brings to everything she does.
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