‘The Armstrong Lie’ – Film Thoughts/Review

UK Release: January 31st 2014
Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney’s look into the whole Lance Armstrong doping scandal in the Tour De France, of ‘THE ARMSTRONG LIE’. Documentaries always work best, when the investigation/documentation of the story starts and ends in a different place, adding a depth to the filmmakers thoughts on the story. And this idea works here, you have this idea that Gibney wanted to do a documentary about Armstrong’s 2009 comeback, only for him then having to change his documentary midway through production as all this doping scandal comes out.
What’s interesting about Gibney’s approach is that he always an outsider looking in on this story. This helps viewers get a sense of the issue. This does look at lies, and how untimely a lie has gone too far and has made enemies of itself. Gibsey certainly has expertise in this field with his other films of ‘We Still Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks’, ‘Mea Maxina Culpa: Silence in the House of God’ and ‘Enron: The Smartest Guy in the Room’, with identifying people of power and the falls from graces they have along the way. And ‘The Armstrong Lie’ does indeed follow this template pattern of his other most recent documentaries. At times though the film does struggle trying to get what he had clearly filmed back in 2009 to present day and how his theory on how Armstrong was doped, it doesn’t come across too convincing. But considering the levity of the eventual story it becomes and him coming back to interview Armstrong after these doping revelations in 2013, there is still a very balanced look at it all, not blaming, no praising and instead more soft-pedalling. Still thought this is a thought steering documentary, which if you don’t have a interest in the sport, it still works as a very well made look into moral relativism (if everyone else is doing it, why can’t I?) and institutionalised corruption. It’s also nice to note that Frank Marshall of all people produced this feature.

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