Home The Phantom Of The Open (Subtitled)

The Phantom Of The Open (Subtitled) (12A)

Cast: Mark Lewis Jones, Mark Rylance, Rhys Ifans, Sally Hawkins
Genre: Comedy
Author(s): Simon Farnaby
Director: Craig Roberts
Release Date: 18/03/2022
Running Time: 106mins
Country: UK
Year: 2021

Forty-six-year-old shipyard worker Maurice Flitcroft is facing redundancy after years of dedicated toil to provide for his wife Jean and three sons in Barrow-in-Furness. During televised coverage of the 104th Open Championship at Carnoustie where Tom Watson beats Jack Newton by one shot after a tense 18-hole playoff, Maurice experiences a spiritual awakening. The complete novice earns his place at Royal Birkdale in 1976 by falsely claiming to be a professional golfer on the entry form.


LondonNet Film Review
The Phantom Of The Open (12A)

The big screen has a rich tradition of sporting underdogs who secure hard-fought personal victories against the odds in a boxing ring (Rocky, Million Dollar Baby), ice hockey rink (The Mighty Ducks), baseball park (Moneyball) or on the high-velocity banked turns of a bobsleigh track (Cool Runnings). Golf has teed up its fair share of unlikely champions including Caddyshack, Happy Gilmore and The Greatest Game Ever Played. Director Craig Roberts’ life-affirming and warmly sentimental comedy drama, adapted by Bafta winner Simon Farnaby from a book he co-wrote with Scott Murray, comfortably achieves par in such crowd-pleasing company…

The Phantom Of The Open lovingly dramatises the true story of a crane operator from Barrow-in-Furness who entered the 1976 British Open without any previous experience on a golf green. Mark Rylance imbues his portrayal of Maurice Flitcroft with a twinkly-eyed innocence and unpolished charm, wrong-footing pompous golfing club authoritarians with old-fashioned pluck, determination and the unerring support of his family. The script confidently sinks earthy one-liners as an unlikely folk hero cheerfully holds firm to his personal mantra (“Practice is the road to perfection”) in the face of ridicule. Roberts’ picture doesn’t take any big swings with plot or characterisation, charting a safe, predictable route to the clubhouse alongside Rylance’s blissfully optimistic protagonist that includes a running battle with Rhys Ifans’ coldly dismissive club secretary.

Forty-six-year-old shipyard worker Maurice Flitcroft (Rylance) is facing redundancy after years of dedicated toil to provide for his wife Jean (Sally Hawkins) and three sons. Eldest boy Mike (Jake Davies) has corporate career goals and twins Gene (Christian Lees) and James (Jonah Lees) nurture dreams of becoming disco-dancing world champions but Maurice desperately needs a fanciful pursuit to spark him back to life. That spiritual awakening arrives during televised coverage of the 104th Open Championship at Carnoustie where Tom Watson beats Jack Newton by one shot after a tense 18-hole playoff.

“I’m going to take a crack at the British Open,” Maurice casually proclaims. The complete novice earns his place at Royal Birkdale in 1976 by falsely claiming to be a professional golfer on the entry form. Maurice practices with borrowed clubs ahead of a first appearance in front of officious Keith Mackenzie (Ifans) and underling John Pegg (Tim Steed). While 19-year-old Spaniard Seve Ballesteros (Marc Bosch) cards an impressive three under par to share the lead, Maurice achieves a record-breaking 121… over par.

The Phantom Of The Open is an unabashed love letter to eccentrics and dreamers, following Flitcroft’s journey through subsequent tournaments, which he entered under amusing aliases including Arnold Palmtree. Rylance birdies his central performance and catalyses pleasing chemistry with Hawkins. Director Roberts is heavy-handed with the schmaltz down the back nine but a couple of dropped shots don’t hurt his film’s chances of winning our hearts.

– Jo Planter


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