Armstrong Lie is a documentary about how Lance Armstrong made a comeback from testicular cancer and then against all odds made his way to seven Tour De France Titles. It’s a film about how he used the most sophisticated doping options and one of the most technically advanced conditioning medical men to help him go ahead with systematical doping and enhancing his power in every race he ever took part in. It’s a film about how he assembled a team whose only task was to help him win and nothing else. It’s a film about all the men and women who he wronged in some way or the other as he went on doing what he believed in. It is a film about the millions whom he gave hope. It is also about the millions he cheated.
This is one of the most interesting and intriguing documentaries that I have seen over the years. Easily one of those documentaries that I have seen again and again and I still can watch it at any time. The beauty of the sport, the vitality and power of it, the strength and stamina of those involved are captured wonderfully. Apart from that, the documentary takes a very surreal sort of an approach to deal with its subject matter. The film starts off with Armstrong’s interview in which he for the first time conceded to have doped all this while. Post the interview, the story unfolds in a sort of a flashback wherein his former teammates, friends, officials, and his coach Michele Ferrari give us valuable inputs into his life and the seven times he won The Tour De France title.
It is made abundantly clear that this was a documentary that was supposed to be about the return of Lance to competitive cycling after a hiatus. This was a documentary that was supposed to make a hero out of him but it turned out to be the one to show his true face to the world after his very own confession that is. This is also a documentary that it extremely polarized at many junctures. Particularly interesting to watch is the press conferences where Lance is so supremely confident. It’s almost shocking to see a man, who knows he is lying, to be so confident and maintain such great poise. It feels to a great extent to be as if he started believing the lie himself.
The film also has interviews with Michele Ferrari, a man who has remained under the radar of the law enforcement and has also remained elusive to the media. For those who have followed this controversy, hearing his version of the story was remarkable even though it was limited. Also speaking their hearts out are his former team mates, their families and some rare footage of Armstrong being tested at his home. There is a scene where practically he is shown being tested by multiple agencies at the same time. Apart from his own filed exploits, the director tries to evocatively extract genuine confession out of the man when he sits for a final interview with him post the expose.
The Armstrong Lie is a well written, thought out and well executed documentary. The film has some of the most fluid and effective camera work that I have seen in years in a documentary of this nature. It’s not easy to film sport events. I am a short film maker myself and I know how hard it can be. But the director here ensured that the viewers got the best of angles and ranges almost always. The film also boasts of some great close-ups which speak volumes for itself. The editing is topnotch and whatever little background score is there is done well.
The Armstrong Lie not only touches a sensitive matter but does well to explain it and stretch it to a point where interpretations can be drawn. Just like the film did, it also doesn’t make the interpretations on its own but leaves it off for the viewers to do so. I believe the film got that trait from the documentary instead of the other way around. I was thoroughly entertained by this documentary and I believe whoever is willing to invest in its narrative will find beauty and engrossing material stacked in high doses here.
Rating : 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)