An utterly charming, funny and moving comedy based on a gobsmacking true story that shows you should always dream big, The Phantom Of The Open comes with a typically charismatic performance from Mark Rylance. Maurice Flitcroft was a crane worker in a shipyard who, faced with an uncertain future, decided to turn his hand to golf and entered the British Open Championship in 1976. He had never played a round of golf in his life and his legendary, severely overpar performance branded him the worst golfer in the world.
Rylance plays Flitcroft, who married his wife Jean – the always-excellent Sally Hawkins – and took on her son Mike, played by Jake Davies. They subsequently had twins, disco dancing-obsessed dreamers played by Jonah and Christian Lees. Facing a crisis, with redundancies looming at the shipyard, the quirky Flitcroft settles on a new obsession, golf, and by a fluke of paperwork finds himself at the Open, much to the authorities’ chagrin. There he meets and competes with the likes of Seve Ballesteros and becomes a celebrity due to his far-from-professional golfing.
Directed by Craig Roberts, who gave us last year’s Eternal Beauty, The Phantom of the Open contains the director’s trademark visuals, zooms and moments of magic realism, with a massively full heart. Solid support comes from stupendous Welsh actor Mark Lewis Jones as Rylance’s mate, while Rhys Ifans goes Scottish to play a snotty Open official and writer Simon Farnaby cameos as a French golfer. It’s the triumph of the outsider against the system and it’s told with humanity, love and a witty script that fizzes – but it’s also a family drama that moves. The film is like Flitcroft’s cups of tea, full of warmth and sugar, yet refreshing and uplifting rather than saccharine. Tee off.
Dir: Craig Roberts (12A, 102 mins)
Out Fri 18 Mar
words KEIRON SELF
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