By Mark Saldana
Rating: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
At this point in our history, most people already know that performance-enhancing drugs have had a huge impact in the world of sports. One of the major controversies to affect professional sports has to be the doping scandal that tainted the sport of cycling. A new film by British filmmaker Kieron Walsh offers an intimate look at a European cyclist who desperately relies on performance enhancements to cling on to a career that is reaching its end. Even though the performance of its lead actor, Louis Talpe, is solid and mostly heartfelt, the movie takes a rather rote approach to its presentation which dulls the overall impact. On top of this, writer/director Walsh and his co-writer Ciaran Cassidy have settled on an annoying abrupt ending which fails to give the film a satisfying conclusion.
Talpe stars as fictional cycling racer Dominque Chabon, a well-seasoned veteran of the cycling circuit about to participate in what might be his last Tour De France. With his position on the team in jeopardy, Chabon remains dedicated to “the program” which involves the use of EPO and blood doping to give him the necessary advantage he needs to remain a valuable member of his team. However, the effects of these techniques are taking a toll on his body and his overall health. As Chabon proceeds with the race, he begins to seriously consider his role in the team and whether or not he is actually valued as a person.
I will say that I was intrigued with this movie and protagonist, but felt disappointed that the movie doesn’t dig deep enough to give its audiences a more impactful representation of the character. Like I said above, Talpe puts his heart into the character; however, it is a character that doesn’t get the proper development he deserves. For a film that attempts to place value on human lives, that value doesn’t get the proper representation it needs. That said, the broad strokes of the film holds it back from being an impactful representation professional athlete experience and all of the pressures that come with this role.
Overall, the cast is decent. Talpe makes for a good protagonist, despite the limitations of the writing. As far as the other cast members are concerned, everyone else offers solid work. The film features fine performances by Matteo Simoni, Tara Lee, Iain Glen, Karel Roden, and several others.
I honestly feel that this film just scratches the surface of what could’ve been a powerful statement on the state of professional sports. Its heart seems to be in the right place, but the filmmakers definitely pulled too many punches. Performance enhancement is a real health problem in sports that affects many athletes, and I think it is an issue that could get addressed through cinema with an impactful film. But this isn’t that movie.