Michelle Bartoli, Ivan Basso, B.S. Christiansen
At once an exhilarating plunge into the greatest race of them all and a keen psychological profile of some of the world’s toughest athletes, Overcoming is a wild ride.
It follows the CSC cycling team through the 2004 Tour de France, capturing the intensity of a sport that remains a mystery to many, even as it enjoys unprecedented exposure in the media.
Managed by Danish cycling hero Bjarne Riis, Team CSC enters the 2004 Tour with fewer resources than its competitors but many talented riders, including the great Italian hope, Ivan Basso.
Of course, in this story’s shadows the commanding Lance Armstrong looms large. Basso and his teammates, a motley crew of international athletes, mount a serious challenge to his dominance.
As their bodies are battered by the gruelling race (there’s poetry in the scenes of physical therapy here), the mind games played between individuals and teams become the key to gaining an edge and offer penetrating insights into the sport.
Danish director Tómas Gislason, also known as a visionary editor, continues to push the borders between documentary, experimental and dramatic forms. Here he breaks down sports-doc conventions, abstracting the action of the race through jarring flashbacks, unorthodox shifts in film speed, embedded text and an elegant use of a split screen.
Though initially disorienting, once one adjusts to Overcoming’s dramatic rhythms, the cumulative effect is entrancing.