With his flashy Lycra uniform and blazing speed, Lance Armstrong was the sports world’s equivalent of a superhero. The dashing bad boy of cycling, who won the grueling Tour de France seven times after clawing his way back from cancer, personified an inspirational narrative that the entire world found hard to resist. Except, as we all know by now, that heroism was built on an enormous pile of lies. Director Alex Gibney’s new documentary, The Armstrong Lie, details Armstrong’s rise and fall from grace in the wake of his confession earlier this year to Oprah Winfrey that he had, in fact, taken performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career. It’s a fascinating film that points the finger at a charismatic master of deception — as well as our willingness to buy his deceit. Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side), who candidly admits in the film that he was as suckered as anyone during Armstrong’s 2009 post-cancer comeback, scores an all-access sit-down with the disgraced athlete, and it’s psychologically gripping. Not just because Armstrong comes clean for the camera, but because of the emotional detachment of his mea culpa. Is he only telling the truth now because every other avenue has been exhausted? That’s certainly the impression you get here. Even when the jig is up, he comes across as a man who can’t muster an ounce of honesty or humility. B+
TOUR DE FALSE Alex Gibney tackles the demise of cyclist Lance Armstrong. (42 West)
Genre: Biography, Documentary; Starring: Lance Armstrong; Director: Alex Gibney; Runtime (in minutes): 123; MPAA Rating: R; Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Posted January 17 2015 — 5:04 PM EST
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