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The Program - Film Review

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Tour De Lance - The controversy revealed
film, cinema, lance armstrong, sports, doping, contraversy, studio canal, stephen frears, dustin hoffman, melbourne, cycling
Lance Armstrong defending doping allegation in "The Program"

On 26 November Studio Canal releases The Program, a film directed by Stephen Frears about the Lance Armstrong doping controversy. Like me, you may have bought Armstrong's book, made a donation to "Livestrong", or watched the Oprah interview and now feel like a moron. See this film and appease your conscience as The Program reveals the complex web of events and relationships behind the scandal.

Ben Foster convincingly plays Armstrong as an iron-willed, obsessive, competitive and charming enigma that for many years had the worlds of cycling and cancer patients in his hands. Armstrong is portrayed like a god, or saviour who has come to free the world of cancer, and eradicate doping in sport, but a dark cloud of suspicion hangs over his mission.

program, film, sports, drugs, doping, Melbourne, Lance Armstrong, Chris'O Dowd, Ben Foster, Dustin Hoffman, Stephen Frears, Studio Canal, film, cycling
Chris O'Dowd plays David Walsh who investigates the Armstrong story
Chris O'Dowd plays David Walsh, an Irish investigative journalist who follows his nose to investigate the Armstrong EPO doping allegations in the La Tour De France cycling races. Walsh later released his own book about the scandal, Seven Deadly Sins.

michele ferrari, sports doctor, doping, cycling, film, stephen frears, Italy, EPO, drugs, Lance Armstrong
Guillame Canet plays Dr Michele Ferrari, Armstrong's physician
Guillaume Canet plays the infamous Dr Michele Ferrari who was Armstrong's physician over this period. Ferrari lawyers tried to block the release of The Program in Italy, but failed. Dustin Hoffman plays the likeable Bob Harmann, a risk insurer on the board of the company that pays Armstrong millions for winning races as La Tour De France.

Armstrong, cycling, Tour De France, film, Studio Canal, Stephen Frear, film, documentary, drugs, scandal
Foster as Armstrong racing La Tour De France

It's hard not to empathise with a character who overcomes testicular cancer and brain surgery and then pursues his dream to win, meanwhile raising funds for cancer research. At times Armstrong is portrayed as a hard working athlete, dedicated, kind to sick kids in hospital and managing to attract a beautiful wife and have the loyalty of his fellow team mates. The jury was still not out about Armstrong, and he seems to be able to use the negative press to his advantage.

The Program is definitely a must see for all sporting groups, clubs, athletes and enthusiasts as well as the regular movie buff. The film includes documented real footage of La Tour De France and Armstrong, and if you stay to watch the long list of credits you will see that Frears (High Fidelity, The Queen, Philomena) pulled all resources to make this story balanced and believable.

Duration 103 minutes*****
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Why? Appease your conscience
When: In cinemas from 26 November 2015
Where: All good cinemas
Cost: $15 - $20
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by James Newcombe on 21/11/2015
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