SaddleDrunk were this week invited by, Chris Ward of workwhereyoulike.com, to a private screening of “The Program” a film based on the book “Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong” by David Walsh, Chief Sports writer at The Sunday Times.
The guests consisted of cycling aficionados, from the boys from www.girocycles.com , www.road.cc and www.milltag.cc amongst many others. So there was an assumption that they were all very familiar with the story that was about to unfold in front of them, albeit from the personal perspective of the author.
The film is directed by Stephen Frears, his notable works include My Beautiful Laundrette, Dangerous Liaisons, High Fidelity, The Queen and Philomena. The films focus was on the systematic use of performance enhancing drugs by Lance Armstrong to win the greatest cycling race of all, Le Tour. The race sequences are well shot using current pro-cyclists, such as Yanto Barker and David Millar was the cycling consultant on the film.
Ben Foster who played Armstrong was strong and very convincing, and at times you believe you are watching Armstrong as was Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad) playing ultra religious, Floyd Landis.
What none of the audience was expecting were any surprises or shock revelations, there were none. We know the story virtually inside out; we have watched all the documentaries, read the books by former teammates and kept right up to date with all the news via the net. So were we the target audience probably not, the audience I would say are those who are just getting into cycling and sports fans of all genres who care about keeping the future of their sport honest, pure and genuine. But also it’s the age-old story of the underdog taking on power and money at the risk of being ridiculed and discredited, who doesn’t love that story?
It’s a good watch but seek out the documentaries if you have as yet to see them: “Stop at Nothing” and “The Armstrong Lie” for a greater insight as to how this man operated. I would also recommend reading Tyler Hamilton’s “The Secret Race”, a former team mate of Armstrong’s and David Millar’s “Racing Through the Dark: The Fall and Rise of David Millar” to get an insight as to why young men choose to cheat and how they deal with their downfall.
Real life is much more gritty and harsh, the movie was a little too generous to the protagonist. This film was based on the authors personal journey to expose a cheat in a sport he loves, this I understand but now it is time to draw a line under this and all doping affairs and look to a time when this ends. But when fame and fortune are being offered in an arena where only the tough and ruthless survive, this may just be something we all hope may happen.
As a foot note the film has an excellent soundtrack which complements the film.