Sunday, December 8 2013, 02:39 PM MST
Movie Review: The Armstrong Lie
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Alex Gibney
Recommended To: Those who haven't had their fill of the Lance Armstrong saga
Synopsis: Originally planned to be a documentary about Lance Armstrong's return to cycling after years of retirement Alex Gibney's documentary became a documentary about Armstrong's fall from grace.
Review: Watching The Armstrong Lie was an excruciating experience. This is partly due to the sow and grinding pace of the film, but more so because at one point I believed Lance Armstrong and to hear him recant after years of publicly destroying those who tried to expose him is disheartening (to say the very least). Whats worse is that Armstrong isn't particularly sorry about it. He's certainly sorry he was caught, but he'd like you to keep in mind that everyone who was standing on or near the award podium was cheating as well and somehow this makes everything hes done justifiable. He refuses to see what he has done as wrong. Its not about truth; its about giving the world the best story possible. Even if that story is a lie.
Director Alex Gibney has made some wonderfully compelling films. He has a knack for finding subjects that are timely and challenging (My Trip to Al-Qaeda, Taxi to the Dark Side and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room come to mind). The problem with The Armstrong Lie is that Gibney is so torn between wanting to pay tribute and raze Armstrong to the ground that the narrative is muddied and conflicted and never really gets beyond the surface of the story. This isn't completely Gibney's fault; Armstrong isn't remotely ready to admit to, or even share, the complete truth and that keeps the film from giving audiences the payoff they desperately want.
-Ryan Michael Painter