<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Stephen Frears. Starring Ben Foster, Jesse Plemons, Chris O’Dowd, Dustin Hoffman, Lee Pace, Guillaume Canet, Denis Menochet, Elaine Cassidy, Laura Donnelly
Running Time: 1 hour 43 minutes
A poorly edited film about a sports man who fooled the world into thinking he was great when he actually was just doped up.
Most of us know the story of Lance Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France winner, who cycled his way into the hearts of millions with his story of bravery at overcoming testicular cancer. He even started a charity called ‘Live Strong’; you may recall the yellow wristbands everyone wore at one time and you wondered what on earth they were for!
In The Program, Ben Foster plays Armstrong who very quickly realises he has to go on performance enhancing drugs if he is to compete successfully. He then gets his team to join in and together they dupe the world into thinking he’s the greatest cyclist of all time. He manages to evade prying eyes of journalists as well as random drug tests and all this makes him feel invincible. Until of course a journalist played by Chris O’Dowd suspects something fishy. But it’s an uphill task to convince anyone that the golden boy of sports has been upto no good.
The problem with The Program is that you know what it’s about and you know what’s coming. There are plenty of shots of cycling and winning and doping up. Just edited into a montage. And quick shots to establish he met a woman and then married her. But nothing about his family life and how all this affected that. Some scenes are choppy, with lacklustre editing.
I don’t think The Program is a very well made film. People will like it because they want to see the story of this man but not because it’s a good film. The other film that releases with it: Race is a far better movie about American track-and-field and Olympic gold-medallist Jessie Owens.