A look at Tommy’s Honour (PG)
Directors taking on a sports film run the risk of their actors looking completely uncomfortable with the balls and equipment of the discipline they’re portraying.
Think the “footballers” playing Aussie Rules in The Dressmaker or the lads trying to look like demon fast bowlers in TV’s cricket epic, Bodyline, from the Eighties.
Here we’re looking at the pioneers of pro. golf, the father and son combination of old Tom Morris (Peter Mullan) and his young tearaway son, Tommy Morris (Jack Lowden).
Now considering old Tom had launched the first-ever Open championship in 1860 and young Tommy won the first of his four British Opens as a 17-year-old teenager the actors hit the ball pretty competently off the tee in most shots.
Young Tommy is perhaps a trifle better than his father on the greens and approach shots.
Lowden had appeared in some sports films before notably the classic Chariots of Fire about the Olympics in the early 20th century.
Back in the 1870s golf was a sort of betting free-for-all with mutton-chopped punters trailing the golfers all over the wild links. They occasionally resorted to fisticuffs when their bets went down or they’d polished off the contents of their hip flasks and were feeling a trifle frisky.
The top-hatted toffs in the background ensuring the strict class lines of 19th century Britain were maintained are headed by Alexander Boothby (Sam Neill), the captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.
The two Morrises are lowly caddies and club repairers yet they gain grudging respect from the toffs.
Young Tom’s focus could have been taken away from golf when he’s smitten by Meg (Ophelia Lovibond) who’s 28 when they first meet and Tommy is only 22.
But he remains focused leading up the highpoint of the film, a four-ball winner-takes-all event with a rival pair of crack golfers opposing the Morrises.
There’s some real off-course personal drama interwoven with the golf as the film reaches its climax.
And an interesting sidelight is that the film is directed by Jason Connery, son of the legendary Sean Connery of James Bond fame.
I’d probably rate this film as a ‘par’: certainly not a ‘birdie’ and no way an ‘eagle’, but certainly worth a cinema visit or a night on the couch with Netflix.