26 September 2023

Phantom of the Open

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

Director: Craig Roberts, Entertainment One.

Inspired by the remarkable true story of Maurice Flitcroft’s astonishingly bad results at the 1976 British Open, we get to learn how he also became a folk hero in the process.

Filtcroft, a crane operator, managed to compete in the Open despite never having set foot on a golf course!

This ‘dramedy’ could leave you feeling skeptical, but it plays with a genre in which underdogs so often triumph. With audacity and steadfast self-belief, Maurice pulls off a series of stunning, hilarious and heartwarming attempts to compete at the highest level of professional golf, drawing the ire of the golfing elite.

Sir Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies, The Outfit, Dunkirk) plays the role of the optimistic dreamer from Barrow-in-Furness. He brings a mix of grief and positivity to his portrayal of Flitcroft who is encouraged by his wife, Jean (Sally Hawkins), to finally follow his dreams. Neither of them know much about golf.

Maurice’s personal mantra is “practice is the road to perfection.” It may not get him there, but his tenacity will and embarrass his stepson Michael (Jake Davies), who has been promoted by the shipyard superiors.

The film takes the cautious road and turns to a positive ending in poignant family reconciliation scenes. The elevating message is one of determination.

Based on Scott Murray and Simon Farnaby’s 2010 biography of the same name. The screenplay is also by Farnaby, writer of the almost illogically enjoyable Paddington 2.

Craig Roberts (Just Jim, Eternal Beauty) directs to unveil emotional truth with eloquent self-confidence.

  • Phantom of the Open is screening in cinemas and on digital platforms

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