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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 »
I think, at least for many of the reviews posted here, that this movie is being misunderstood. Mostly, the negative reviews focus on deconstructing the theories that this movie puts forth, which totally misses the point.
I found this whole movie extremely disturbing. It's a masterpiece in terms of execution, cutting and sound. On it's own, it's a strangely unique sports-doc that will, if you surrender to the feeling, have great potential to move something within you.
In connection with the movie's subject, Lance Armstrong, it gets even more weird. People present their theory about the movie and its meaning, leaving behind a strangely vague sense of mystery to these people and their offbeat theoriums. This is something the movie does very well - it constantly forces you to create theories, cuing you into considering everything it puts forth and creating an imaginative image of the people behind the faces and tying the pieces of their stories together.
Next, there is the cutting. Images, special effects and clips from old bike races dominate the screen, side by side with clips of Lance Armstrong. There is a strange, unexplained relation between the theories about Lance Armstrong and the old footage, to Lance Armstrong himself. Special effects are utilized mostly to explain the rather complicated points of the interviewees, and a haunting, mostly electronic soundtrack creates a sense of unrest that permeates the entire movie.
None of these elements function on their own, but together they create the perfect atmosphere for the presentation of these theories.
What you must ask yourself before viewing this film is: can you surrender to the feeling of a film without necessarily finding the material entirely plausible? If so, I think the movie will convince you and it will be a haunting experience. Don't watch it if you're just looking for theories about Lance Armstrong's criminal deceptions - this movie is not an academic analysis of the laws of biking, it is an elevation of simple theories into a profoundly disturbing feeling; it is a journey through the mind of obsessive fans that leaves you understanding their passion, and with a sense of dread that I have don't have the adequate words to describe.
And this, not having words to describe a particular emotion, sense or... sensation, whether good or bad, is exactly what a good art film should do to your mind. There is the sense that something "clicked", that something was learned, that something moved. If it does not have the same effect on you, too bad - but it's certainly worth a shot if you haven't seen it!
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