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Friday, 13 December 2013 00:00

Arrogance leads to years of 'The Armstrong Lie' + Video

Arrogance leads to years of 'The Armstrong Lie' sonyclassics.com/thearmstronglie/
Written by Diane Carson
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Late in the shrewd, revealing documentary "The Armstrong Lie," writer/director Alex Gibney says, "We wanted to believe the beautiful lie. I wanted to believe it, instead of the ugly truth." Count me in that group as well as someone, naïvely and foolishly, celebrating Armstrong's spectacular wins--both in cycling and against cancer--over his long career.

We're now disillusioned, dismayed, and depressed over Lance Armstrong's pathological cheating and his repeated assertions that he never did, and still doesn't, feel he was cheating. "The Armstrong Lie" begins with Gibney confronting Armstrong shortly after Lance's admission, in the January 2013 televised interview with Oprah Winfrey, that he had doped throughout his seven Tour wins, 1999 to 2005. Gibney began this documentary to chronicle Armstrong's 2009 comeback in the Tour de France, intended as a glorious, decisive declaration of him as cycling's superman. Gibney had to do a 180 after the truth came out.

Various stages of the 2009 Tour provide the spine of the film with Gibney's unprecedented access--in support cars, on the bus, in hotel rooms. Armstrong explicitly defines his own attitude and drive. He says, "I can't stand the idea of losing because it equals death." But as teammates, sports writers, and Gibney make crystal clear, "This was a guy who was going to succeed no matter what." And Armstrong was determined to dominate, not just win. To quote from Gibney, "This is not a story about doping, but about power." And Lance's aggressive fight to keep others quiet ruined people.

Gibney intersperses Tour footage with candid, new interviews with past teammates, including Frankie Andreu and George Hincapie, and infamous Italian Dr. Michele Ferrari, banned for life from Olympic sports. There's archival footage of Tyler Hamilton, a significant, influential catalyst in the doping interrogation, and, to his credit, Armstrong genuinely delighted when he meets children his Livestrong Foundation helps. Piece by piece, Gibney compiles a complex, absorbing portrait. Throughout "The Armstrong Lie," Lance remains arrogant, self-delusional in thinking he can control his image, and regretful only because he was caught. There's a lesson about hubris for all of us. At a Landmark Theatre.

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