Cyclist Lance Armstrong overcame testicular cancer, started a global children’s cancer foundation, and won the Tour de France seven times. A true hero. Until he wasn’t. It seems he was also a champion of circumventing the sport’s testing regimen for banned, performance-enhancing drugs.
But you know all this. And Stephen Frears’ film will teach you little that’s new. But perhaps those who had been willing to give Lance the benefit of the doubt (like me) will be fewer in number. Sigh.
What the movie does do is raise questions: What kind of man values winning so much that it’s worth living such a dark lie? How was this elaborate hoax kept secret for so long, when so many people were onto it? I wish it had gone deeper.
But your criticism of such structural uncertainties is muted as you watch Ben Foster disappearing into the lead role, capturing Lance’s charm as well as his arrogance and remoteness. A tour de force. (Foster reportedly subjected himself to the title doping program during filming.) And Chris O’Dowd is superb as David Walsh, the sports journalist on whose book this is based. Walsh sensed what was happening early on and dogged Lance for 13 years, often at great personal and professional cost.
The man’s only dream was to win the Tour. He’s showed little remorse at being caught. I wanted to know about the forces that produced such an accomplished, hollow fake. Japanese title: Giwaku no Champion (103 min)