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SBD/November 8, 2013/Media
Sony Pictures' "The Armstrong Lie" Hits Select Theaters To Relatively Positive Reviews
Published November 8, 2013
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NO BOMBSHELL REVELATIONS: ROLLING STONE's Katie Van Syckle wrote, "Although the documentary focuses less on groundbreaking scoops and more on the psychology of deceit, Gibney offers a comprehensive view of a long brewing scandal, and the corrosive power of win-at-all-costs ambition." Van Syckle chronicled the film's "10 juiciest moments" (ROLLINGSTONE.com, 11/7). In L.A., Kenneth Turan writes the documentary is a "thorough and engrossing investigation that manages to smoothly integrate footage shot for the earlier work into a very different framework." It is "at its best when it deals with the linked questions of why Armstrong decided on the comeback, a move that triggered his downfall, and why he engaged in deception for so long" (L.A. TIMES, 11/8). In N.Y., Stephen Holden writes the film is "absorbing but overlong." Instead of "bombshell revelations, of which there are none, 'The Armstrong Lie' offers a thorough history of ... Armstrong’s cycling career and the elaborate measures he took to cover his tracks." The documentary is a "reminder that celebrity and hero worship, once attained, are almost irresistibly addictive." For all of Armstrong's "gifts and hard work," he "emerges as a hollow man, corrupted by glory, protecting what remains of his reputation" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/8).
LENGTH QUESTIONS: In Austin, Pam LeBlanc wrote the film "feels a little disjointed at times and needs to be shortened by about 30 minutes." Still, it is a "well-executed synopsis of a whopper of a fall-from-grace story" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 11/7). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Joe Morgenstern writes "The Armstrong Lie" is a "tale of ambition that's almost mad enough to be mythic." But it "wears thin before it's over; the wafer-thin nature of the cyclist's personality can't sustain a two-hour running time" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/8). NPR's Ella Taylor wrote the documentary is "fast-paced, aggressively stylized, and juiced by a driving score." Not "too deeply buried in the press notes is the casual but staggering disclosure that Armstrong would have taken a cut of the movie's returns in return for 'unprecedented' access." Taylor: "For all I know, he still will -- and paying your subject is certainly no way to make a documentary." The documentary is "rarely boring," but it is "more illuminating about the corrupt sports industry than it is about its subject" (NPR.org, 11/7).