Time Trial is a documentary film that follows cyclist David Millar’s career as it comes to an end in 2014.
Director Finlay Pretsell and cinematographer Martin Radich get up close and personal with the cyclist during his final Tour de France run. They were there in the support car where one can be comfortable and escape from the cold weather. The filmmakers were there as the cyclists go up and down hills that would be seemingly impossible otherwise. They even take us into the hotel room where Millar is in bed dealing with the anguish that follows a race.
The filmmakers are able to follow along the Scottish cyclist by using some pioneering techniques when it comes to filmmaking. These pioneering techniques include both bespoke vehicles and on-bike cameras. Without these techniques, it certainly would not be as compelling of a film.
During in-depth interviews, Millar opens up on camera about some of the problems facing cycling in this era. He was the same guy who had been suspended for two years after admitting to the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Upon his comeback in 2008, he took a strong stance when it came to use use of PEDs. Millar comes off as angry that the doping isn’t really getting cleaned up or better as time passed along.
Interestingly enough, it is Dutch cyclist Thomas Dekker who serves as Millar’s roommate in the final races. He ended up getting banned because of testing positive for Erythropoietin (EPO) in 2009. The ban came only days before he was set to race in the Tour de France.
What makes Pretsell the right person to make this documentary is that he had once been a cyclist. Having raced semi-professionally and having been a filmmaker for another years, it gives Pretsell an opportunity to merge his passions together in a project. It’s because of this that the director is able to offer viewers such a unique insight into Millar’s psyche as a cyclist and a person. Any other director with a different background might not be able to take viewers along the journey and use this knowledge to the film’s advantage.
Time Trial may not be a perfect film but it’s still compelling enough to offer viewers a chance to get an idea of what it may be like for any athlete in the final days of their career.
DIRECTOR: Finlay Pretsell
FEATURING: David Millar, Thomas Dekker
An official selection of the 2018 SXSW Film Festival, Time Trial makes its North American premiere as part of the Documentary Spotlight program. The film premiered at the 2017 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA).