DOCUMENTARY; 2hr 3min
DIRECTED BY: Alex Gibney
Wheeler dealer: Armstrong (in 2009)
Busy-bee documentarian Alex Gibney (We Steal Secrets) zooms into the opening of his Lance Armstrong exposé, flitting between the discredited cyclist’s 2013 Oprah confessional and a grab-bag of Armstrong’s Tour de France campaigns — all before the film title appears! Gibney has been fascinated by Armstrong since 2008 and was initially keen to showcase the Texan's 2009 Tour comeback by asking, “Why did he come back?” After beating testicular cancer, Armstrong won the beyond-gruelling Tour seven times between 1999 and 2005. Why endure it again?
Regrettably, Gibney was denied his victory lap: as the world now knows, despite years of fervent denial and much attendant nastiness, Armstrong was exposed as a repeated performance-enhancing drugs user and in 2012 was stripped of his Tour titles and banned from pro cycling for life. With that bitter truth already laid bare, what holds attention is the dexterity with which Gibney exhaustively mosaics information via racing footage and interviews with the fallen star and his associates. Armstrong is a fascinating study, in his ravenous lust for victory, his fierce, whippet-like physicality and, sadly, most memorably in the barefaced deception that came to define him.