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  • Warning: Spoilers
    It is rare that a film leaves me feeling as this one did. It was moving, touching, honest and a bit haunting. More than anything, however, I want to stress the honor that I felt in being allowed to share in such an unbelievably intimate portrait of a family that has climbed a mountain and found another behind it.

    It is a story off a man's consuming passion for a sport that would eventually lead him to the absolute pinnacle at the same moment that his life was tragically turned inside out by an accident caused by the very thing he loved, speed. More than that, however, it is a story of the grace of two women, his wife, Virginia and his daughter, Claire. While there are countless interviews with some of the greatest names in Formula 1, it is Virginia and Claire that truly steal the show and I was simply left in a bit of awe of them both.
  • Although it may not look like it from the outside, the Williams F1 team is deeply intertwined with the Williams family history, and that's what this documentary does so well. Bringing to life two fascinating sides of the story of the family, it's a riveting and powerfully emotional story that holds your interest from start to finish. It may occasionally get a little muddled when trying to pick a side to focus on, and is possibly a little inaccessible for non-F1 fans, but it's still a fascinating watch throughout.

    Now, I'm a big F1 fan. My favourite documentary of all time (and the highest rated film of all on this website) is Senna, a beautiful, elegant and thrilling tale of one of the sport's greatest drivers. Although I can't say that I found the same thrills in Williams as I did in Senna, I have to say that there is a lot about it that bears a likeness, particularly when it comes to the all-important topic of a thirst for competition in motor racing.

    The film is a piece about the Williams family, but there's no doubt that Sir Frank, the man who started the team, is the centre. Although he was never a driver, one of the most powerful messages that this documentary brings across is just how determined he was as a competitor, in whatever capacity. Through some incredibly difficult times over his years in F1, Frank's determination and obsession with the sport is so similar to the emotions that dominate Senna, and that's what sets up such an enthralling and emotionally affecting watch.

    I do worry that viewers who don't have the same fervour for motor racing may not be able to relate to the film as much, because there is so much focus on Frank Williams' unstoppable obsession despite all the dangers of motor racing, but if you are an F1 fan, or indeed a fan of pure competition, then it's very clear to understand how strongly the man has felt about the sport all his life.

    However, the entire film isn't all about Sir Frank Williams. There's a sprinkling of on-track action throughout, delving into the rivalry between Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell in 1986, when the Williams family was at their most difficult moment, but the true focus of the film is how the family itself played a role in shaping the team that has endured very strongly up to the present day.

    As a result, the film's three major players are Frank, his wife Ginny, and his daughter Claire. Alongside Frank's racing obsession, we get an enthralling insight into the woman who was always at his side, and the core of the film's emotion really comes from contrasting the thrill that Frank got from being in Formula One to the difficulties that it often caused for his wife.

    It's not a story that in any way criticises either party, but it highlights the fates of the people who aren't always at the forefront, and how much of an emotional drain such an intense profession can be on their personal lives, something that I found absolutely riveting.

    Furthermore, Frank's daughter Claire offers a very effective and relatable position for you as the viewer. Much of the film focuses on the fact that Frank is a very emotionally introverted character, something that also contributed to a degree of stress in the family, but with the insights from Claire, someone who is both prominent in F1 nowadays, but also has the benefit of being so close to Frank Williams, you get a very clear and collected insight to the whole family saga, and it's her descriptions, along with a collection of fascinating tapes from Ginny Williams, that give the film such a powerful emotional effect.

    On the whole, this is an excellent documentary, but it's not without a couple of small flaws. For one, its first act struggles to really tie all of the aspects of the story together well, jumping back and forth a little too much between the three main players, Frank, Ginny and Claire, as well as trying a little too hard to assure you that there will be some racing cars in the movie too. For me, I would have been perfectly happy to see a slightly calmer introduction to the story that focused on the family heritage, and brought in the wider F1 context a little later on.

    Overall, however, I was absolutely enthralled by Williams. An excellent documentary that looks at a wide range of stories around the Formula One paddock centring around the Williams family, it will have you absolutely riveted from start to finish, and even tug at your heartstrings, such is the emotional power of the family's story.
  • I went into this expecting to learn more about the team 'Williams', but I found myself learning more about Frank, the man, and the family, than anything else, but don't misinterpret that as a bad thing.

    I'm an avid F1 fan, I have been since the days of Michael Schumacher in a Benetton, but being of a relatively young age I didn't know an awful lot about the Williams team other than whom ran the time, who drove for them and that they were British.

    The documentary touches on many insights into how the team came to form, struggles within the family and I think most importantly, the relationship between Frank and Ginny. It does a fantastic job of showing you enough of both sides to walk away from it with a much better knowledge of what it was like for everyone involved and it doesn't pretend to pull any punches.

    There's comedic moments where Frank will recount something in such a blunt and unforgiving manner that you can't help but laugh but then there's moments where you feel great sadness for them.

    It's beautifully shot and the score is excellent, I'd HIGHLY recommend this to motor sports fans, but I'd also recommend it to those who aren't, because it's a poignant reminder of struggle no matter who you are or where you're from.

  • Definitely one of the best documentaries I've seen in a while. As a big fan of Formula 1 i couldn't wait to see this one since I realised that I actually don't know much about Frank Williams' life. And what a life this man had. From being obsessed with racing as a young man he did everything in his power to get to the top and it wasn't an easy way. He overcame many struggles which is truly inspirational.

    This film goes quite deep to show us the relationships between the Williams family members. It carries quite an emotional punch but without ever being overly sentimental.

    If you are a true Formula 1 fan you will definitely enjoy this and if you are not you will enjoy it as well since the story of Frank Williams can inspire people from all walks of life.
  • Frank Williams' life will probably be made into a movie someday. The struggles, the drama, the love of racing and the sheer drive for success, do make great ingredients for a movie. But this one is a -straight to the point- documentary. And a great one in my opinion.

    Most people don't have the time, or simply don't care, for anything else than the image and the results. The statistics, the pure numbers and the balance. This film delves deep into Williams Racing, which frankly is the same as the Williams family and the few close friends of theirs.

    It is clear that the documentary is not intended for the uninitiated in the racing culture and especially Formula 1. You will have to known faces and situations to get the full from the information and images you are seeing. And that may make it difficult for some to follow the swing from present to past to present again. But in return you get to see the people like they are, without evasions, and feel the story unfold before your eyes, like it is being written now.

    In conclusion i think this film is less biased than the Senna documentary, better structured than the McLaren one, which seemed a little bit shallow in places, and would definitely recommend it to petrol-heads and F1 enthusiasts.
  • How often to you come upon a documentary - a kind of film that can't afford to use fiction to draw emotions from - that makes you cry? Especially if you're not prone to crying at movies. Well, Williams was certainly my first experience of that sort, and that alone merits a high regard for this film. But that's definitely not the film's sole quality.

    There's something magical about Williams, both the film and Frank himself. Maybe that's the secret only the Brits possess, because everybody - and I mean _everybody_ - in this documentary looks as if they are professional actors: handsome, deep and oozing that charm of something really big going around. Or maybe that's the spell of Formula 1 working on me after all - even though I'm absolutely not a fan of F1 -, who knows.

    All I know is that the story this film tells is not simply about a certain racing team's ups and downs. It's not even about a certain man's personal ups and downs, even though those are quite big and dramatic on their own. It's a story of real people, a family, going through several decades of challenges life gives them, having to both overcome the problems coming from outside and deal with the way racing business shapes their lives as a husband, a wife, a daughter and a son.

    That Williams family, it's a peculiar one. If you enjoy reading people's characters, you'll find this film especially delightful, because, on many accounts, it feels like a confession for everyone involved. For Frank, who's been so obsessed with racing that he openly put his family to the second place of his life priorities. For Virginia, his wife, whose story of meeting and living with that man deserves a melodrama of its own but is given us without sugar dusting instead, with all the harsh details mentioned. For Claire, Frank and Ginny's daughter and the current Team Principle, who's been on a lifelong mission to prove herself worthy, as a woman and as a second child, of her father's shoes, against the preconceptions of the industry and the jealousy of a family member.

    That might actually be the reason why this film is so deeply touching. Because what that family has come through is so profoundly complex and at the same time so relatable, that no fiction movie screenwriter could have done a better job than what life itself did. And no professional actor could possibly convey as much emotion, both expressed and contained within, as those people did by just being sincere to themselves and to each other for us to watch. Especially Claire, who has to be as strong-willed as her dad but at the same time feels entitled to have emotions and attachments to something besides those roaring metal beasts. Her face, her voice, showing beautiful strength and determination, but at the same deep never-going sadness, is something that one could win an Oscar for, if only they were faking it instead of just living their life.

    Some things words just can't describe. So, whether you like deep psychological drama or are just a keen fan of this sport, make sure you don't miss this film. Can't guarantee that you'll deeply regret it otherwise, but, using the film's last line, it's certainly possible.
  • A documentary about Sir Frank Williams, a British businessman, former racing car driver and mechanic. It tells the moving story of how he fought career and personal battles to achieve success as a Formula One constructor and recovered his health following a motor car accident. Using interviews with close friends and family including audio tapes recorded secretly by his wife during the period she was caring for him, it is a poignant story. It captures two types of determination: one who is entirely driven by passion for their chosen work with consequences, and another, one who is strong, loyal, loving and proud, besotted with their partner and the cost that may carry personally.
  • This is a moving and sympathetic film about an F1 great, his team, and family. Memorable and enjoyable for anyone to watch, essential viewing for petrolheads. It documents Frank's family, obsession, racing team, and devastating accident, but more than this, the power of Ginny, his late wife, a rock in the wings. A touching and powerful documentary.
  • Having watched several documentaries over the years on legends of motor sport. Graham Hill Jackie Stewart Jim Clarke and now Sir Frank Williams. They all strike me as extremely driven determined and selfish individuals who put there need to increase the speed of their cars above all else and in Frank Williams most of all his family. They always came second to his F1 team. Despite having a remarkable wife who stuck by him despite numerous affairs and a near fatal accident that left him severely paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. In this insightful documentary we learn much about this remarkable man who took a struggling team on the point of bankruptcy to a multi million pound business winning several world titles along the way. We also learn much about his daughter Claire who herself has had difficult family decisions to make in her quest to become the most powerful woman in the male dominated world of Formula one. 9/10
  • Prismark1010 July 2019
    One thing I learnt early on in this documentary was that Sir Frank Williams is from the north east and came from a poor working class background.

    This documentary could have explored a lot of areas about the Williams racing team. How in the early 1990s they dominated Formula 1 but Frank Williams could or would not keep hold of his best drivers.

    It was as if having the best car was enough for him and the driver's role was secondary.

    Wisely it concentrated on Frank Williams the man, his early years in racing and then up to his accident with the immediate aftermath.

    Williams is a great name in Formula One but the glory days are behind it. Frank Williams started out as a racer. A poor man living with posh Eton educated racers.

    However although Frank loved speed he was not a skilled enough racer. He made money in spare parts, buying old racing cars, refurbishing them and selling them on, usually back to the people he bought it off from in the first place. In short he was a bit of a hustler.

    Frank got enough money to start his own racing team in the late 1960s but he did not have enough money to keep it going. His cheques usually bounced.

    His first racing driver Piers Courage died in 1970 at the Dutch Grand Prix. An incident that still haunts him even now.

    Williams getting Patrick Head in his team in 1977 saw the team moving from making up the numbers to winners. They had the fastest car and won their first world driver's championship in 1980 with Alan Jones.

    In the 1980s the Williams team cemented their status as one of top outfits in F1. They had some of the best drivers but in 1986, tragedy struck as Frank Williams ended up paralysed in a car accident in the south of France.

    A traumatic time for the Williams racing team and his family. It was his wife Virginia who first had to fight to keep him alive and then keep him going so he could return to his team wheelchair bound.

    It is clear in this documentary that like other F1 team owners. Frank Williams is a driven man with a narrow vision. He eats, breathes and lives for his team.

    Family was a distant second. I think he preferred to go on a long run than spend times with his family. He wooed his wife Virginia who left her husband for him. After their wedding he went straight to work, there was no time for a celebratory lunch.

    Virginia took her children to Spain for a holiday for 16 years, Frank did not accompany them once. You felt that this has caused issues with some of his children.

    Even Virginia was upset that once the team became successful, Frank had his head turned by the beautiful women who hung around Formula 1.

    Frank Williams shows few emotions and claims to have little regrets about the past and his accident which was his fault. I find that doubtful.

    Now widowed he has little time for his family home. He still lives and breaths F1 even though the Williams team is a shadow of what it used to be.

    This was a warts and all documentary. It was truthful up to a point. I did sense there were some family issues that were held back. Obviously I sensed Frank Williams was reluctantly to talk about the death of Ayrton Senna.
  • fcu-1553329 June 2019
    For every race driver fan, this is a moving film and a must watch.
  • This has got to be the best F1 documentary, easily beating "Senna". Tremendous archive and current behind the scenes film (also some re-creation) underlines a fascinating look at what drives and motivates important characters in the sport, with some surprises and vulnerabilities. Very well put together. Highly recommended and authoritative.
  • This opens with Frank Williams smiling as the sound of engines roar. He's 75 and looks as wide eyed as a young child. This isn't called Frank Williams though, it's a family story, the last in F1. Time wise it bounces around, getting the more recent disappointments of the team out of the way early. It covers everything from starting out, getting nowhere, through to the 80s dominance and Franks accident. Most interesting though are some of the recordings of Franks wife Ginny, no longer here, talking about the team and the world of racing. This along with the stuff from current team boss Clare Williams really makes this pretty captivating. A heartbreaking story, bravely told openly. Whether you're a fan of F1 or not, this is a remarkable documentary.
  • jon-3446630 December 2019
    Great docu which explored not only the racing of the williams f1 team, but also the family behind it all.
  • You don't need to be a fan of Formula One to enjoy this documentary. I don't watch F1, and only have a mild interest in car racing. This documentary is about so much more than that, and as a result, should appeal to a wide audience.

    There are a lot of inspiring people here. Grit, determination, adversity, motivation, passion would all be key words and themes. You can't help but admire those who wholeheartedly dive into their life passions and overcome hardship or adversity in their pursuits.

    This was way more emotional than I expected from a documentary I thought would just be about a racing team. It has a lot of heart. It's never boring for a second. Highly recommend!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    (Flash Review)

    As a large Formula 1 fan and much to my chagrin, I didn't know anything about Frank William's history; how he formed his team or why he was even in a wheelchair. This well-edited documentary shines a bright like on Frank and takes you through his early years as a very in shape man up to him falling asleep in pit lane in his wheelchair. You learn how obsessed he is with racing!!! How his family and primary daughter became the core of the team after Frank's accident up through today. And you learn in great detail about his accident and how close he was to not surviving. Overall, this gave a full spectrum of his life and career in an engrossing way. A must for F1 geeks.
  • As an avid fan of the sport and typically enthralled by documentaries, this review might have some slight bias. I must profess that you do not have to be a petrol-head to enjoy this, it is incredibly accessible to everyone. Having said! This actually might just be the first time I teared up to a documentary. Chronicling the life of Sir Frank Williams, founder of the Williams construction team for Formula 1, journeying through both the sport and his family affairs. Initially, I underestimated what I was in store for. A typical sporting documentary this is not. Matthews carefully portrayed Williams' personal backstory and intertwined it with his addiction and aspiration to the motor world in what is a perfect equilibrium. The two sides bounce off of each other where any incidents or scenarios in either life affect the other, as if Williams' story is its own ecological structure. Mesmerisingly breathtaking and incredibly moving, honestly. One man's ambition has lead him to create one of the sport's best engineering teams, and this film illustrates just how much of an impact he has made. "The accident" that occurred is intricately embedded to showcase his unstoppable personality. It didn't deter him away, he came back more focussed than ever and I really admire the way this film captures that. It's never melodramatic, it's an honest frank (pardon the pun...) look into a broken family. It doesn't stop there, it dabbles into the lack of female empowerment within the sport and how his daughter is a leading figure, not just in the team, but the entirety of F1 racing. There is a touching moment towards the end where his daughter reads a book to him about her mother, and for a moment I was stunned. The ferocious amount of emotion that was conveyed overwhelmed me. The tangible heartache for this family is astronomical. I would've like to have seen more of the racing and it could've been cut shorter for a much tighter narrative. However, the pace speeds along to an emotionally complex finish line with grace.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Beautiful, emotional movie showing very well Frank Williams strong, but having difficulties showing emotions (like many men) character. I'm pretty sure deep inside he's got lot of feelings, pride, sadness, loss and caring for his family and team. Not many people could move on like him after so many sad things that happened like his accident, losing his caring wife, his kids not talking to each other etc. And there we come to the point that makes me give the movie a 6 instead of a 7: Has the writer or director been in coma for 30 years (1987-2017)? It would have been interesting to know what Frank was thinking about the fatal disaster that occurred in 1994 with the best driver he ever had, Senna, and believe me I'm not Brazilian, but I was in Brazil when it happened and I never before and never after have seen so much sadness in a country where people normally never lose their humor even though they might be sad because of their situation. I'm pretty sure this incident hurt him deeply after all the throwbacks he had before in his life.

    All in all great portrait of a standup man and his great daughter that resembles her mom very much. be it in her determination, looks and ability to show emotions unlike her dad.
  • I write this with deep respect to the family that gave us so many years of the most entertaining and emotionally charged racing, an unaware witness to the successes as i was only a kid then, yet, probably cheering their victory without even knowing it as one of many young boys who loved the fast cars zipping by on the tele in 90s today sadly, the same legendary team is being sold even while its original founder is still alive, after several years of, not only racing, but personal, familial, tragedies struggle, to keep the team too alive, as this documentary very intimately portrays
  • ylshu-0228422 June 2020
    Paranoid people have their own success and misfortune. Williams buried the past in his heart, turned it into a driving force, lived in the present and believed in tomorrow. He is lucky. Ginny is a strong and independent wife. She embraces him, takes care of him, and finally writes love into a book. She hopes that her husband who does not love reading and is not good at expressing feelings can still feel the strong love of first love in the past days.
  • Am not sure what to make of this experience, there were times when I felt too close to emotional ripples to the point of voyeurism perhaps. Have followed the team since Damon Hill joined but have struggled to like the man after how Damon was treated in his championship year. Here is revealed more of the man you always suspected lies there running the ship like an obsessive who lets nothing stand in his way. Not even business disasters not to mention fatal accidents in his team's cars. Who could survive let alone prosper when they have been hit by so much so often as we see here. But he has not been the only one to pay the price of membership of the "piranha club"; his family deserve medals and more for their considerable tolerance and sacrifice to feed the machine. Whether this is a biopic of Sir Frank or the team that bears his name I was not entirely clear, maybe that was deliberate, you will have to make your own mind up. Personally if this is what it takes to touch the top in F1 then leave me and mine out of it. 32 holidays in the same place without your father... well, it says it all really. Call it driven or call it selfish you have to ask if the price of fame is worth it. One last note to the film-makers - I would warn would-be viewers to be alert to the tragedies of multiple accidents some of which were clearly fatal and are in my mind horrific adding nothing to the intent of the film. It is a thin line between sensationalist and essential in some minds. Do we really need to be shown these terrible accidents? I think not. Let us remember them full of life not as blazing corpses.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I have followed Formula One since I was 5 years old in 1974. I find the people in the documentary are psycophantic, aloof and far removed from the working man, who are the backbone of the sport. Maybe, me being a working man am myself at odds with F1, however those who are lucky enough to have the silver spoon located firmly in their mouths pervade the Williams F1 family. Sir Frank Williams - "A poor Northener" Now that is stretching credulity and frankly is not true. I bear no malice, but a rich family having fun with motor racing doesn't have any resonance to me. It's a rich man and family story and good luck to them, but I wish Ms Williams could walk a mile in my shoes, it would broaden her horizons no end. Then again I fear Claire would not survive a working class environ. CONCLUSION; A jolly good documentary for the posh boys and gals who live in the world most of us will never see. Quote Frank was a a "POOR NOTHERNER" ...really. Give me a BREAK...Does Ms Williams know what a poor notherner is? i imagine she has no clue. POOR DOC 1/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As a fan of F1 and Williams I was hoping for more of a team narrative covering the achievements and goings on between various personalities involved throughout it's existence. Instead I was faced with an commendably honest look at the teams creator Frank Williams. I hadn't realised what a selfish and somewhat uncaring man he is, it baffles me to see anyone sing his praises after watching this, yet they do. The movie is full of apologies for him from those who have every right to feel the most aggrieved, I can't fault them personally as family is family. However, it was well made, insightful and worth watching even if I do have to reconsider my choice of team going forward.