Breaking Away From The Pack: Our Review of ‘The Racer’

Posted in Movies, VOD/iTunes/DigitalDownload, What's Streaming? by - September 15, 2020
Breaking Away From The Pack: Our Review of ‘The Racer’

Hitting theaters and VOD today is a European co-pro that takes a fictional look at the world of cyclists. It also looks at the doping issues that plague the sport, those issues coming to a head in the 1998 Tour de France.

Louis Talpe is Dom Chabol, a support rider or domestique for a cycling team. He is the man who blocks the wind, creates the slip stream. He also supports the team’s sprinter without ever being allowed to win himself. In his late thirties, he’s well aware that there are fewer racing days ahead as there are behind. But that still hasn’t dashed his dream of someday wearing the victorious yellow jersey.

On the beginning leg of the tour, which starts in Dublin, he is initially cut from the team. But when a teammate has to undergo hospital treatment the team pulls him back in. That’s even as he begins to question his life and the things around him. He also begins a relationship with one of the cute Irish doctors (aren’t they always?) working on this portion of a tour. That doctor is Lynn Brennan (Tara Lee). Of course, some people aren’t the best to help him. One example is the team’s masseuse, and Dom’s friend, Sonny (the always on point Iain Glen). He’s aiding in the team’s, and specifically Dom’s doping. And that he also has to deal with the recent death and upcoming funeral of his father, and a relationship with his estranged sister.

The film attempts to give us a behind the scenes look at what goes into the world of cycling, and the driven cyclists who live it. Unfortunately, the interpersonal stuff doesn’t always work as well as you want it to. And I found it difficult to find a way into the picture. However, the film is at is best when Dom is on his bike, whether working to keep his heart going, or driving his team onward. The cycling sequences are where the film really soars, with great drone work. And I delight in the logistics of all the extras and cyclists needed to bring these moments to life.

Dom on the whole is a likable character, but its hard to empathize with him as he knows what he’s doing. He knows that the doping isn’t necessarily the best thing for him. However, he’s so driven despite the fact that he’s not allowed to win. He’s willing to do what it takes for the team, which hasn’t even bothered to sign him for the next season yet. But when Lynn comes along, he begins to see the possibility of something else, something more? But is it enough to draw him away from cycling?

The Racer is an interesting film that fumbles around the starting blocks of interpersonal scenes. But it comes into its own when the bikes and the cameras are in motion.

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TD Rideout has been a movie fan since the moment he first encountered Bruce the Shark in 1975. As passionate about cinema as he is popcorn movies, his film education is a continuing journey of classics new and old. He is at his most comfortable with a book, a drink, his partner and his dog.
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