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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 »
Alex Gibney is a prolific and well-respected documentary film-maker; I've previously seen his piece on paedophile priests, MEA CULPA, which made for harrowing viewing. THE ARMSTRONG LIE is his version of the Lance Armstrong story with an engaging hook: Gibney started filming long before the doping scandal hit, so he's able to chart the rise and fall of a hero every step of the way.
This is a quietly gripping documentary that never outstays its welcome despite a lengthy running time. Despite the fact I have zero interest in cycling (in fact, I hate cyclists with a passion), I was thoroughly engrossed in the psychology behind the tale, as well as the 'devil may care' attitude of the participants.
Armstrong himself comes across as a complex beast, a man who it's easy to both like and hate at the same time, as weird as that sounds. But it's Gibney who comes out of this the strongest, having made a documentary that resolutely refuses to take sides, instead presenting a full version of the story and allowing viewers to make up their own minds. It's a winner.
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