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Filmmaker Alex Gibney followed Lance Armstrong for four years with the intent of chronicling his return to cycling after retirement as Armstrong tried to win his eighth Tour de France. Unexpectedly, Gibney was also there when Armstrong admitted to doping, which resulted in the film being retitled from "The Road Back" to "The Armstrong Lie." See more »
Here lies the aftermath of celebrity worship culture.
I always admire the commitment of a documentarian. It feels destined for Alex Gibney to have been following Lance Armstrong just before the turn of his downfall as all his documentaries need a tinge of controversy before they're just right. A comeback film wouldn't have been as interesting as this. Perhaps it's morbid curiosity of why I'm looking into Lance Armstrong more now that the truth has broken out than when he was heroic cyclist who wasn't held back by a little cancer. What brings a man to do something like this? What was the point? The Armstrong Lie has intimate access to the disgraced icon and it's undeniable that he's compelling to watch, if sometimes repulsive. Above all, it reveals the nature of our celebrity worship culture and the power it feeds and the lives it destroys.
The documentary covers all aspects of the sport of cycling. It's quite infectious with its cinematic style and I regret watching this the day that the Tour de France was close to me but I missed it. The film gives scattered information about the basics but there's great insight into how the cheating works. The cutting makes the human drama thrilling as people try to beat Armstrong at his game. The film doesn't necessarily take a side, but he still makes you sick to your stomach when he lies through his teeth to the camera. I couldn't help but keep thinking that Ben Foster will be perfect for Stephen Frears' upcoming film. We still haven't got all the facts, especially about Armstrong's peers, and there's quite a bit about media manipulation here too which the film is a part of, but the story of a contemporary legend falling touches an aching nerve.
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