Drama films

The Racer review – The Tour de France takes the shelves | Drama films

In 1998, a doping scandal shakes the Tour de France when a team masseur is surprised with a pharmacy of banned substances in the trunk of his car before the first stage in Ireland. The incident is the inspiration for this solid and professional Irish drama with a solid performance by Louis Talpe as Dom Chabol, a fictional Belgian cyclist watching the barrel of retirement at 38; he just can’t imagine life beyond cycling. And like most of the peloton, he gets drugs; everyone does it.

Talpe looks quite like the professional rider, thin and light, not a pinch of fat on him. And he embodies Chabol with a dullness without charisma that convinces for an athlete with tunnel vision, blocking everything that is not related to the bike. The details of life on the cycling circuit also seem well documented by director Kieron J Walsh, although his screenplay, co-written with Ciaran Cassidy, is heavily exposed to explain the intricacies of cycling. Chabol is an assistance rider, or domesticated; it’s his job to bring the flamboyant Italian leader of the Tartare team (Matteo Simoni) to the finish line. So when Tartare takes a little kick halfway through the race (while staying on his bike) Chabol gives him a little boost so that he doesn’t slow down. Chabol is an unsung hero, sacrificing his own dreams of winning the yellow jersey for the greater good of the team.

Outside of the bike, the drama becomes a bit fragile. The day before the big départ Chabol receives a call from his sister. Their father is deceased, but it is evident that he has no plans to leave the tour to catch a plane for the funeral. Meanwhile, cycling authorities are stepping up random drug testing. On the positive side, he meets a gorgeous young Irish doctor Lynn (Tara Lee) who takes him to the pub for a Guinness or five. What the film does very well is show how doping has become so normalized. It’s as much a part of the team’s routine as a post-race massage.

The Racer is in theaters and available in digital formats starting December 18.


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