Phantom of the Open
Stars: Mark Rylance, Sally Hawkins, Jack Davies, Christian Lees, Jonah Lees, Rhys Ifans
Another week, another Britfilm about an eccentric underdog, based on a true story. Rylance is Maurice Flitcroft a forty-six-year-old crane driver from Barrow-in-Furness. When it looks like redundancy is pending, Flitcroft decides, seemingly at a whim, to become a golfer and enter the 1976 British Open. His ever-patient wife (Hawkins doing her best in a rote role) and twin sons, competitive disco dancers James and Gene (Jonah and Christian Lees) are supportive, not so much social-climbing older son Michael (Davies).
Borrowing some money to buy books and the requisite wardrobe, Maurice, somehow manages to gain entry to the competition. His shortfalls soon become apparent to the spectators and Maurice becomes a media favourite, much to the annoyance of pompous tournament chief Lambert (Ifans).
Adapted by Simon Farnaby from the book he co-wrote with Scott Murray, the broad storytelling, characterisation and cheerful incuriousness about Flitcroft’s obsessive behaviour, signal very early on that nothing taxing or disturbing is going to disturb the feel-good vibe.
The ever-reliable Rylance scores some real laughs though as the sweetly befuddled protagonist, even when the script is treading a fine line between affection and condescension. A chance meeting with fellow competitor Seve Ballesteros is particularly amusing. And Robert delivers some nice visuals, most notably in a lovely sequence in which Flitcroft is marching head down through the grey-blue murk with his fellow work drones, before raising his head and donning his cap superhero-style.
The Phantom of the Open is out now.
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