The Armstrong Lie

The Armstrong Lie

Alex Gibney (2013)

118min
15 Certificate
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Review

Our Score
Access to controversial figures is not always possible for documentary makers, but director Alex Gibney hit the jackpot with this breathtaking portrait of fallen cycling idol Lance Armstrong. In Gibney's previous film, We Steal Secrets: the Story of Wikileaks, Julian Assange was only an archive presence, but here he has unprecedented access to the famously abrasive Armstrong: cancer survivor; seven-time Tour de France winner; charity figurehead; American sports legend. The original idea was to chart Armstrong's attempt to win the Tour again four years after retiring in 2005, but the film (entitled The Road Back) wasn't completed. So when Armstrong's systematic cheating was established, the disgruntled documentarian returned to confront the man, interviewing him a mere three hours after his still-startling confession to doping on the Oprah Winfrey Show. The movie shifts between brilliant archive of his rise to fame, the 2009 comeback footage and the events of 2013; it's a staggering contrast: on the one hand the aggressive competitor castigating, even bullying, all who accused him of drug taking; on the other, a humbled shadow of a legend forced to accept a spectacular fall from grace. You don't have to be a sports fan to find this an utterly absorbing ride, because it's also a wider story about power corrupting and absolute power corrupting absolutely. Even in sport. There's no beautiful lie here, just the ugly truth.

Summary

Premiere. Documentary following cycling champion Lance Armstrong's fall from grace. Film-maker Alex Gibney was initially commissioned to follow the cyclist as he prepared to make a professional comeback by competing in the Tour de France, only to find himself documenting an unprecedented scandal as Armstrong was exposed as having used performance-enhancing drugs.

Cast & Crew

Lance Armstrong Lance Armstrong
Director Alex Gibney

Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: SonyGuidance: Swearing.Available on: DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 31 Jan 2014
Documentary