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The cycling film has many flaws, but its morals are by far its worst, as it sends a message that not getting caught cheating counts as a win.

Unlike most Belgians I've never been mad about the sport of cycling so I never particularly expected to be bowled over by The Racer, a movie chronicling an aging cyclist's last shot at glory during the doping-infested Tour de France of 1998. But I never expected the picture to be this abysmal.

Not only is the film littered with details that couldn't be further from reality where a cyclist's life is concerned, erasing any sense of authenticity almost from the get-go, the overall narrative reads like a copy-paste from a beginner's guide to screenwriting: they're filled with every possible predictable plot cliché you can think of.

Lead actor Louis Talpe isn't that bad, to be honest - though he is stuck with at times grating dialogue - and he definitely looks the part, but that cannot even pass as a silver lining in a movie that treats characters as pawns whose only purpose is to service the plot.

Unforgivable as these fatal flaws are, the worst is perhaps left for last, as The Racer's moral seems to be that not getting caught cheating counts as a win. Perhaps it does in real-life cycling, but it never should do in a movie that is hanging by a thread anyway.

release: 2021

director: Kieron J. Walsh

starring: Louis Talpe, Iain Glen, Matteo Simoni, Timo Wagner


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