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Western Suburbs Weekly - - Film -

ANY­ONE who has kept up-to­date with the Lance Arm­strong scan­dal would get a sense of déjà vu with The Pro­gram.

Af­ter the news re­ports, ar­ti­cles, books , Oprah in­ter­view and doc­u­men­tary The Arm­strong Lie (2013), there is lit­tle left to re­veal about how the cy­clist pulled the wool over the world’s eyes and ma­nip­u­lated his fans.

When Arm­strong (Foster) be­gins dom­i­nat­ing the sport of cy­cling in the Tour de France af­ter beat­ing tes­tic­u­lar can­cer, Ir­ish jour­nal­ist David Walsh (O'Dowd) be­gins to sus­pect he is us­ing banned sub­stances.

With Arm­strong’s fundrais­ing em­pire and sta­tus as in­ter­na­tional hero and ad­vo­cate grow­ing, Walsh’s peers and ed­i­tor dis­miss his sus­pi­cions, shun­ning him for his al­le­ga­tions.

While we al­ready know the facts, The Pro­gram re­it­er­ates them, though also al­low­ing us ac­cess to Arm­strong’s drive, cun­ning ma­nip­u­la­tions and meth­ods of beat­ing drug tests.

Foster turns in a good per­for­mance as the scar­ily driven Arm­strong. His eerily calm de­meanour as he de­liv­ers each lie and dis­missal of dop­ing claims are as chilling and stom­ach churn­ing as the in­ces­sant shots of nee­dles pen­e­trat­ing skin.

O’Dowd as the jour­nal­ist, on the other hand, is given some hor­ren­dously cliched di­a­logue.

This is un­doubt­edly a com­pelling story and one that is of­ten hard to be­lieve, even though we all know it hap­pened, but is it overkill?

The an­swer to the ques­tion “does it war­rant an­other telling?” is left to the viewer to de­cide.

Scriptwriter John Hodge, work­ing from Walsh’s book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pur­suit of Lance Arm­strong, and di­rec­tor Stephen Frears cer­tainly try their best to make this version rel­e­vant.

Ben Foster as Lance Arm­strong in The Pro­gram.

With Ju­lian Wright

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