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Oh HELL No! (or Maybe): It's the Lance BioPic!

The Program, StudioCanal Pictures

What did I do to deserve this? Because obviously I'm going to see it, and then hate myself for doing so.

Yep. It's the long-awaited Lance movie you weren't actually waiting for, called "The Program," and accordingly, it's already causing people to argue with each other, even though it doesn't make its world premier for another 36 hours. For example, the actor who plays Lance, Ben Foster, has stated that he took EPO as part of his preparation for the role, an act which the real-life Emma O'Reilly, the former Armstrong masseuse caught in the middle of the entire Lance thing, condemned in the media. Personally I don't care what actors do privately, partly out of defense of my sanity, but I guess it shows that even fake Lance can't help but stir up emotions. That's how bad it was for people who found themselves in with the real one.

Still, I can think of a few reasons to go see it, should it ever wash up on the shores of this great nation. [It's a British film, made by Stephen Frears with assistance from David Walsh and his book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong, and it premieres in France this week.] They are, as follows:

  • First and foremost, Floyd Landis is played by Jessie Plemons, most famously cast as Landry Clarke in the Friday Night Lights TV series. Landry is the freshest breath of air in the otherwise oppressive world of Texas high school football, and Plemons nails the role. So we can expect the best from his portrayal of Landis, the turncoat and outcast, himself a man of many layers.
  • Dustin Hoffman as... we're not sure. But he's in the film, and the clip shows him giving off some distinct eminence grise vibe. Can you think of anyone in Lance's orbit of that nature? Maybe the Postmaster General? President of Rabobank? Robin Williams? I don't know.
  • Eddy Merckx as himself. Yeah, Eddy was not an island on the bike. He had lieutenants and he knew how to deploy them. But when something important needed to be done, he didn't need a surrogate. He took action, and he came correct. This is no different.
  • Oprah as herself. Remember what I said about Eddy? Oprah is the Eddy of talk show hosting, in the broadest, most all-encompassing, most totally Oprah sense of the word. You don't hire someone to play Oprah. You call her agent, and get the hell out of the way.
  • Also Chris O'Dowd as Walsh. O'Dowd is an excellent choice to have playing you. He's like the guy you sit next to at a soccer game. In fact, perhaps you have sat next to him at, I dunno, Stamford Bridge or the Galaxy stadium in SoCal for Robbie Keane's MLS debut.
  • Other reasons... maybe you're feeling too excited about the World Championships returning to America for the second and probably last time ever, and you need something to bring you down.
  • Oh, a really good reason to see this is that the actor playing Lance is juiced up on EPO for the movie! How is that not great drama? It's also gross, but so was the last season of Homeland.

Then again, I can think of some reasons not to see it. Such as...

  • Movie theaters have certainly expanded the moviegoing experience in lots of interesting directions, like food service and barca loungers, but I don't know of any theater that provides showers.
  • I don't know that any proceeds from the film (should it generate them) will ever end up in the pocket of Lance, or anyone else whose role in this sordid tale concerns you. But I can't say that they won't. Well, Floyd won't see a dime, I would guess. That never seems to happen. I also can't guarantee that you won't see Tyler Hamilton's post-cycling haircut. Probably not, but you can't be too sure.
  • There are lots of alternatives to watching the movie. You could read the Seven Deadly Sins book, which Feargal reviewed here. You could read another dozen or so books on roughly the same subject. You could watch The Armstrong Lie, a movie that tells the identical story as The Program, only with the actual people in it rather than actors portraying them. You could just power down your computer, right now, and sit there remembering all the events that show up in the movie when you lived and re-lived them a thousand times, as they were happening. Hell, you could probably even rustle up some greasy popcorn and flat soda to help wash those thoughts down.

Apparently it opens in "cinemas" October 16, which I think is a British thing. You can also see it in German, which almost has to be better, right? When Americans will be subjected to it remains to be seen. Ultimately I can't tell you whether you should or should not see The Program; it's up to every individual to decide for themselves. So when we all go see it, like moths to the flame, let's definitely put up another post to break it all down.