Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Racer Review: An Honest Sports Drama That Gets The Blood Flowing

Louis Talpe	Louis Talpe	...	Dominique Chabol Matteo Simoni	Matteo Simoni	...	Lupo 'Tartare' Marino Tara Lee	Tara Lee	...	Dr. Lynn Brennan Iain Glen	Iain Glen	...	'Sonny' McElhone Karel Roden	Karel Roden	...	Viking Timo Wagner	Timo Wagner

Release date: September 18, 2020
Running time: 95 minutes
Starring: Louis Talpe, Matteo Simoni, Tara Lee, Iain Glen

The Racer follows Dom (Talpe), a rider who is racing the Tour de France in a team managed by his long time friend Sonny (Glen).  Being However, Dom is what is known as a domestique, someone who will never win a leg but is there to make sure that the star of the team finishes first.  He takes care of the details and the team, ensures everyone is hydrated during the race, and leads the pack so that the star Tartare (Simoni) can have just that little bit extra to push through to victory.  However, Dom is tired from never winning the race, of being the adult in the room, and from the constant strain on his body.  But a new relationship with Lynn (Lee) and a plethora of personal challenges cause him to rethink his priorities and his life.  

I am a sucker for sports movies, but I often fall for the inspirational variety.  However, this movie is not so much an inspirational sports movie as a dramatic telling of the life of an athlete.  This film has some inspirational moments, but what struck me about this is the honesty in the film.  First off, the film says at the start that this is a fictional film based on a real historical event.  Rather than trying to say it was inspired by real events or something along those lines, it is up and honest.  Additionally, the Racer has some really fantastic details on racing that lend it an air of authenticity, such as when the racers viciously diet before a race, train at all hours, and go to extreme lengths to hide their doping.  The team features racers from a variety of nations coming together, and I loved that there were a mix of languages used throughout to represent this.  These riders have lived all across Europe for their sport, and come from different countries, so it makes sense that they would be comfortable communicating in a variety of tongues.  

The Racer, Movie, Sports, Drama, Inspirational Sports, Sports Drama, Racing, Biking, Tour de France, Indie, Indie film, competing, doping
The Racer tells the relatable life of a struggling athlete, someone who is comfortable in what he is doing but yearns for more.  And the movie really does an amazing job of showing the extent that athletes will go to for their sport, including the personal, professional, and physical sacrifices they make to keep competing.  This is helped by some wonderful performances headlined by Talpe's portrayal of Dom.  He really transforms for this role and perfectly encapsulates the struggles, scares, and overall pain that an athlete at this level could experience.  As Dom he passes the eye test, looking like he could be an athlete competing in races.  He is thoroughly convincing as a grizzled racer and displays a really good emotional depth throughout. I also very much enjoyed Lee's portrayal of Lynn, and her conflicted feelings as both a team doctor and friend to Dom.  Iain Glen is also wonderful as Dom's old friend and coach on the team; the two have a natural chemistry that shines through in this film.  

And the film also does a good job of pulling together some distinct riders with larger than life personalities.  Some are there for comedic relief, but I enjoyed the very different backgrounds and priorities that they had.  Although there is plenty of drama, there is also a lot of humor between the various team members.  They are at times truly like a family, with all the pranks, humor, ribbing, and caring that you would expect.  The racers are conflicted in that they are members of the team but also individual athletes striving for glory.  And that is where some of the most interesting aspects of this film are, in that push and pull between overall team success and personal aspirations and survival.  The movie presents a lot of challenges and conflicts that put these two competing interests front and center.  And in doing so also tells a fantastic sports story that is different enough from the rest of the inspirational sports pack.  

The Racer tells an honest sports story, with inspirational moments, plenty of interesting insights into conflicted athletes, and a story that paces itself nicely before a photo finish.

Watch it.

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