The Program (2015)

Program (3)

Director: Stephen Frears
Story by: David Walsh
Starring : Ben Foster, Chris O’Dowd, Lee Pace, Denis Ménochet, Dustin Hoffman. UK, France. 1h 43m

While I’m a closet fan of biographical dramas I can’t say that I’ve seen many sport orientated versions of these hit and miss epics, I had only recently seen Foxcatcher which was a brilliant depiction of a series of disastrous circumstances and not something I was aware of to start with but I managed to not only get into the film and enjoy it but I also learn a lot about the 1980s Olympics scandal.

Personally I’m not into cycling and this movie makes no attempt to sell it to anyone I may have caught snippets of information in the news about the real event behind this after watching the program it’s very clear that are media only scratched the tip of the iceberg.

The story is still pretty much the same rise and fall of Lance Armstrong falling from the massive height of owning the most yellow jerseys to his obscurity today played by the ever talented Ben Foster who animates Lance down to the smallest detail it’s almost creepy and the creeping continues in the story itself, Lances bitter and twisted inner demons are revealed from the husk that he turned into during the period where his cancer was at its worst but during his Frankenstein reanimation an absorbing psychological insight into the workings of a possessed madman who managed to pull off the biggest scam in sporting history.

If Armstrong is to be seen as being one of the biggest villains then our superhero comes in the guise of David Walsh played by Chris O’Dowd, his suspicions are often supported by the more power for Armstrong spin team but is blistering loyalty pays off as he slowly uncovers the gritty details what seems to be a widespread and ongoing scan and order to promote athletes.

The film is quite brilliant and there is an obvious amount of passion that has gone into it but it kind of has all of the mechanics for Wikipedia page, yes the details are there all the facts and the timeline are sound, but the film flounders a little,  not dragging up much needed flair to the cinematic version of this story but while the acting is brilliant especially bends portrayal of Armstrong that’s pretty much where the lies. the reprise just isn’t there and we all know Armstrong has been stripped of titles the film doesn’t shed any new light and will not help win any cases it’s just simply there to educate a wider audience and to demonstrate what wash have to go through in order to retain is Status and to push the story.

It seems quite apparent that the director was extremely detach from Support itself there is no love for cycling there’s no promise that it’s a safer sport that is better respected now that this travesty has been put aside.

The film pulls punches when needed but that said, the drama doesn’t seem to have any real direction for most of the film it seem to be trying to portray the facts from the side of Armstrong but then makes a bold move and immediately start attacking his character trying to illustrate his absence for morality but only from the point of Welsh and the general public I think for this movie to have been a better success it really should have been the answers that the fans were looking for and they would have to come from Armstrong himself.




Rating 5/10

R – Triplets of Belleville (2003)
L – Cycling Movies, Sport Docufilms
A – When is a documentary a film?
5S – Ben Foster, Chris O’Dowd, Lee Pace, Dustin Hoffman