Tag Archives: Philomena

The Program

Directed by: Stephen Frears

Written by: John Hodge (screenplay), David Walsh (book)

Starring: Ben Foster, Chris O’Dowd, Jesse Plemons, Lee Pace, Guillaume Canet, Dustin Hoffman

It may not take a groundbreaking approach to biographical drama, but Frears’ The Program draws strong performances from an impassioned O’Dowd, up-and-comer Jesse Plemons and particularly Foster, whose set-jawed intensity grows and grows to suggest a borderline psychotic Lance. As sports doctor Michele Ferrari, however, Canet is way too hammy.

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There’s an inconsistency of focus as the film flits between Armstrong and O’Dowd’s suspicious journalist, but this keeps The Program from shying into Philomena’s territory.

Dizzying Tour de France sequences provide a queasy break from the more conventional drama, and Hodge provides a few witty moments.

Familiar format aside, The Program cleverly produces ambivalence, first convincing a knowing audience to root for the cheating Armstrong and then to switch allegiance to O’Dowd’s put-upon Walsh.

 

 

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