My review of “The Program”!

Hello movie fans!

It’s been a while since my last movie review. Yesterday I went to see The Program and here is my review about this great movie, enjoy!

The Program is a Franco-British film directed by Stephen Frears with Ben Foster, Chris O’Dowd, Guillaume Canet, Denis Ménochet and Jesse Plemons. This film was released in France since September 16, 2015. This is both a biopic, a drama and a thriller.

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What’s the story? Classic racing cyclist, world champion in 1993, Lance Armstrong seems to say goodbye to his cycling career when he is struck by testicular cancer. Yet he will come back and become not only one of the greatest champions in the history of cycling, but also an important political and charitable figure. The story is too good to be true and David Walsh, journalist, will do everything to get to the truth about the biggest scandal of the history of sport: the dismantling of the doping program which turned Lance Armstrong into a legend…

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You will say that I just told you the whole story. Everyone knows that Lance Armstrong was using doping products so this is not a surprise! But what matters is not the end of the story but the whole journey.

I’m not a fan of cycling but I have always been interested in biopics of famous people. And I think that the personality of Armstrong is both complex and very interesting to study. Lance Armstrong has a dual side quite fascinating. First, he has a bright side: the will to win and the hope of achieving his dreams which are found in every young sportman. Indeed, he is only twenty-one years old at the beginning of the movie. He is not corrupted yet, he is ready to train with all his strength and surrounds himself with talented people to accomplish his destiny. He gives the image of a hero with an iron will, who has the means to come back to his best level after fighting cancer, surpasses himself to stay on top, and achieves performances that seem impossible!

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Then comes his dark side: the belief that a non-doped racing cyclist has no chance of success. All his team will start to use EPO and Armstrong will meet the challenge of doping himself in the most efficient way to catch up and surpass his competitors without being caught. His meeting with Dr. Ferrari, theorist specialist in the use of EPO, will turn him into a champion of fraud to slip through doping controls, such as a profesional of the Mafia…

Don’t believe that the film praises the doping! It only shows the sad “behind the scenes” of infiltration of this wormy substance in a sport supposed to be clean. Hence the intervention of the British journalist David Walsh, author of the book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong: he will fight for years to discover the truth despite threats against him. Fighting against someone rich, powerful, famous, loved all over the world and who is a specialist in the art of concealing evidence is far from easy… And this is what makes the film so exciting. The good guy is alone and mistaken for a jealous man who absolutely wants to sell his book, and the beloved legend of cycling is in fact an impostor, a cold monster, venal and calculating!

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According to me, the actors were good and convincing for most of them. Ben Foster plays an incredibly realistic Lance Armstrong. If I did not know how the real one looks like, I would have thought that Foster is Armstrong. He was able to take ownership of facial expressions of the true cyclist without falling into caricature. And I also have appreciated the character of Floyd Landis, the friend and then rival of Lance Armstrong who has not been so lucky in his carreer. However, I found that the character of Dr Ferrari, played by Guillaume Canet, was ridiculous and caricatured. He seemed too disguised, fake and not threatening at all, so he made the image of doping look almost like a joke or a game!

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I know nothing about cycling but I found the movie was good, exciting and entertaining. One hour and 43 minutes is a bit short to cover a period of 20 years but I think Stephen Frears did not want to retrace the entire life of Armstrong. He wanted to focus on the dismantling of doping program and did not develop the psychological aspect of the story. It would have been interesting to see how Lance Armstrong managed to live a lie, and how he managed not to get lost in the maze of his double life… Admit that there is something to be schizophrenic with all that!

If you haven’t seen The Program yet, go for it, you won’t get bored, I promise.

Don’t hesitate to give your opinion in the comment field. See you soon 🙂

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