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Film Review: The Program


Film Review: The Program

Georgina Cunningham

The Program, directed by Stephen Frears, tells the story of one of the biggest sporting scandals ever. Beginning in 1993, the film takes place during Lance Armstrong's (Ben Foster) rise to fame as both a cancer advocate and sporting hero to the demise of both his career and respect from the public. When sporting writer David Walsh, becomes convinced that Armstrong is doping during his sporting career, he sets out to uncover the truth that spans across a decade. 

What is great about this film is that it wasn't just about Armstrong and his moral choices. With a great ensemble cast, there was no reason not to showcase each character and their development. With strong performances from Foster, O'Dowd and Jesse Plemons this film set out to showcase all areas about the scandal, aligning each moral dilemma with past doping offences in cycling. 

The cinematography of each cycling scene was captured with such precision and ease. Angled camera work, emotional close ups and precise tracking shots put the audience on edge. It really was a cycling film more than anything. The beginning of the film was rough in its timeline, but evened out towards the end. 

The problem often found with biopics is the portrayal of the main subject, especially when such a subject is still alive. Frears is the master of such biopics, with films such as Philomena and The Queen in his backlog of past direction. Foster did his best to maintain the mannerisms of Armstrong, although with Frears direction it took the step in "Mark Zuckerberg-ing" him. There was a distinct alienation between Armstrong and his relationships that allowed the audience to be as objective as possible when assessing the faults he made in his life. 

Slight green screen problems and character captions took away from a great narrative structure, however the film put together each piece of evidence together in a clear manner that told each part of Armstrong's ever growing lies. 

One of the better biopics in recent months and a must see for those who enjoy stories based on true events, with an interest in sporting and scandal.