Dope?
The Armstrong Lie
Review by Ross Anthony

Some quick quirky background on my interest in this film: Back in 2006, I was mesmerized and energized by Floyd Landis's amazing Tour de France comeback and win. It just felt wrong to watch him stripped of that victory. Everyone seemed so sure that he had doped; but for some reason, I didn't quite buy it. I certainly didn't want to believe it. A year or two later, my girlfriend remembered my defending Floyd and picked up a copy of his book Positively False (at a 99cent store). I read it, enjoyed it, and reviewed it. I'll quote myself: "If, in fact, this man is innocent, then what a monumental tragedy it had been to strip him of his victory and public dignity. Might it even be a larger wrong than had a guilty doper gotten away with winning a bike race?"

Anyway, to my surprise, Floyd read my review and wrote in to show his appreciation. He seemed truly moved by my review. Doping or no doping, I found his comments on his hip surgery truly inspiring, so I offered to trade him a signed copy of one of my books if he'd sign a copy of his book to my sister (who was having difficulty with her hip surgery). I sent him a signed copy of Zen Repair and the Art of Riding Chili, but, again to my surprise, I never heard from him again. This left me flummoxed, and a little embarrassed, because it left my sister hanging.

All of this resulted in an odd interest in biking, Tour de France, and the doping controversy. In fact, whenever I'd bump into local riders, I'd ask them their thoughts on Lance and Floyd and the doping issues. And their answers were always the same: of course, they all dope. I remained flummoxed. Times that by ten, when in 2010, Floyd came out with his bombshell confession and finger pointing.

Hence this film's painfully concise and potent title played all the more poignant to me. I rsvp'd to the media screening with more urgency than usual.

And now for the review: The film is fascinating. It features the classic charismatic, yet fallen hero. The filmmaker, himself, falls victim to Armstrong's spellbinding charisma and athletic ability, only to feel the sting of the lie just like everybody else. The doping revelations left the rest of us to rework our thoughts on the matter; however, director Alex Gibney was forced to rework his entire film (originally expected to be an inspirational out-of-retirement comeback story). Still, Gibney's inside access results in incredibly candid interviews with key figures including Armstrong.

It's quite worthy of viewing, even if you're not into the sport - watch it as a study in human psychology. Everyday each of us chooses between the hard way or the cheat. We make choices to preserve self, even at the expense of others. The Armstrong Lie is a cautionary tale of a man who took getting a leg up, a little too seriously.

Production shortcomings? Sure, a couple minor ones: 1) While it seems necessary and even justified in this special case, the presence of the documentarian in his own film feels awkward. 2) The production eventually focuses itself around the question: "Why did Lance choose to comeback?" - but, sadly it finds only muddled and vauge insight into those answers.

All in all - fascinating! On a personal level, I greatly appreciated this film. (And yes, I'm aware of my own hypocrisy, I am the reviewer injecting myself into my own review). That said, I think you'll be fascinated as well -- even if you didn't get an email from a dethroned Tour de France winner.

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  • The Armstrong Lie. Copyright © 2013.
  • An Alex Gibney Film. A Kennedy/Marshall/Jigsaw/Tolmach Production. Sony Pictures Classics. Appearances by Albergotti, Andreu, Bruyneel, Coyle, Ferrari, Hincapie, Liggett, Madden, Strickland, Vaughters, Vrijman, and Walsh.

Grade..........................A (3.5/4)


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Copyright © 1998-2016 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at HollywoodReportCard.com, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: www.RossAnthony.com or call 1-800-767-7186. Check out his other sites too: Author*Illustrator*Speaker, Motobookothon 2009, M9, Write Triangle, TwT. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.


Last Modified: Thursday, 24-Oct-2013 10:38:41 PDT