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The Last Rider (2023)

The Last Rider (2023)

An inspiring sports documentary that does just what you'd expect to do

7.3

Movie

United Kingdom
English
Documentary
2023
ALEX HOLMES
Cyrille Guimard, Greg LeMond, Kathy LeMond
97 min

TLDR

Hits all the right notes, for a motivational piece, that is.

What it's about

A deep dive into the life and career of Greg LeMond, the first non-European to win the Tour de France cycling competition.

The take

American cyclist Greg LeMond, who in 1986 won the Tour de France has been a legend in the sports world, but filmmaker Alex Holmes presents him to the wider audience with a brand-new inspirational documentary. The Last Rider is everything this kind of film can be—its hook is courage and hard work that pays off, its mode of storytelling is personal, intimate interviews, and its framework is a "modern hero" kind of narrative. By stringing together conversations with LeMond himself, his friends, family, and colleagues, Holmes tells a chronologically-sound, emotional version of a landmark career. For many, the 1986 or 1989 win wouldn't mean much (unless you're a sports fan or French), but the educational bits of The Last Rider make for good trivia material. If you need a courage boost, here's the story of a professional cyclist, injuries, perseverance, and fame, to cheer you up.

What stands out

For an inspo-doc to work, you need to have a hero-narrative, well-assembled archives, and personal revelations. The Last Rider has all three. Shortly after rising to fame, LeMond suffered from a serious injury that left him doubtful if he'd ever compete again. In addition to this, his early life wasn't easy. Mentions of childhood abuse and repressed traumas give us a hint of what it must have cost him to channel all this pain into winning. Such a tenacious protagonist is, of course, likeable, and if his friends—and opponents—are caught speaking highly of him on camera, you have a tribute of a film. LeMonde himself doesn't take too much space in his own documentary, which also contributes to the feeling of admiration he evokes. A well-maintained balance will appease every diligent viewer, as you're weighing the person against the sportsman in this biographical account.

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