Movie: “The Phantom of the Open”: Film Review

Mark Rylance and Sally Hawkins play a role in a comedic drama that is based on the real story of an British person who set history by being the world's most terrible golfer.
The Phantom of the Open Review
COURTESY OF NICK WALL/SONY PICTURES CLASSIC

Maurice Flitcroft might not have explicitly endorsed George Carlin’s statement the notion that “golf is an arrogant, elitist game,” however in their humorous way his late-’70s actions made the same argument.

A crane operator at a shipyard in northern England He smashed through the bars of one of the sports world’s most unpopular worlds that is the British Open, with blunt-force foolishness and a fair amount of chutzpah.

He smuggled his self off as an professional golfer despite knowing nothing about the game. He was able to be in the history books of this prestigious tournament with the lowest score ever recorded which was a whopping 121.

After the initial reaction that included raised eyebrows, and WTF snickers wore off and Flitcroft’s sly ineptitude at the fairway struck an emotional chord in the ranks and filers of clubs that are not country-clubs and caught the attention of the sports page editors.

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The Phantom of the Open Movie Review

According to in the book The Phantom of the Open The nose-thumbing exploits of Flitcroft are unavoidably linked to the story of love between a family. It’s a blend that doesn’t always make sense however it’s never from the line. The film’s humorous humour and passionate love for its characters are a delight.

With its stellar pairing of British actors such as Mark Rylance and Sally Hawkins as well as in its wacky story of working class Brits taking on the world, Phantom recalls The Duke (also released by Sony Pictures Classics release) however, the latest Jim Broadbent-Helenmirren-starring film has a more pronounced undercurrent. Based on Simon Farnaby’s adaptation of the book that which he co-wrote with Scott Murray, director Craig Roberts has created a sloppy but lovable film that pays tribute to Flitcroft with a focus on the realities of everyday life and slapstick comedy.


Movie Title:

  • The Phantom of the Open

The Bottom Line:

  • A mostly winning charmer.

Movie Release date:

  • Friday, June 3

Cast:

  • Mark Rylance
  • Sally Hawkins
  • Rhys Ifans

Director:

  • Craig Roberts

Screenwriter:

  • Simon Farnaby; based on the book by Farnaby and Scott Murray

Rated:

  • PG-13

Time:

  • 1 hour 46 minutes

In the previous feature of the director, Eternal Beauty with Hawkins playing a female who was diagnosed as having schizophrenia. Self-acceptance became a distinct thing from rebellion against conventionality. Roberts’s interest in this issue, as well as in the vast world of neurodiversity, is evident in The new feature, featuring Rylance’s performance being a twitchy mixture of genuine transparentness and uninhibited tricksterism which simply eludes the wise-fool twee-ness.

When we first meet Maurice as a person after he’s been made “a legend,” his unassuming eccentricity is reflected by his preference to tea with six different sugars, which sweet taste is accompanied by a childlike sense amazement. The most significant aspect of the story of Maurice is revealed in the brief background story that plays during the opening credits: like many other children living who lived in English towns during World War II, he was taken away to a country in Scotland where the danger of bombing was not as severe.

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In Scotland his eyes were opened to the thought of possibilities that went beyond the shipbuilding industry which dominated his town in that of the Cumbrian Port of Barrow-in Furness in which every good boy was required to follow their fathers into business.

As the main story starts, Maurice is in his late 40s, a long-time employee in the Vickers Shipyard and his hopes of a better life were put aside while he was raising three children together with Jean (Hawkins). An opportunity to reignite the fire that ignites creativity comes through the form from bad news in the form of his son Mike (Jake Davies) who is a suit-and-tie guy who is in the top management level at Vickers and the Vickers Shipyard is set to be nationalized, and there are massive layoffs coming up.

Jean who is a straightforward woman with a tremendous compassion and humility performed with perfection by Hawkins who has turned her character into an art form out of positivity — exhorts Maurice to grab the opportunity: “It’s your turn now,” she says to her husband.

After being exposed to the latest and greatest marvel of a remote for television, Maurice finds his new passion while surfing channels: He can see American golfer Tom Watson winning the first of his British Open titles. Fame, triumph, money , and fresh airis a great method to reach Maurice and a luck golf putt from the living room appears to be a sign. It is the way he will live his life.

With the complete backing from Jean and their twins, who are teenagers dancers Gene as well as James (Christian Lees as well as Jonah Lees), and to the dismay of the status-conscious Mike, Maurice pursues his desire to compete at the 1976 Open. The sly letter he sends to a sportscaster on television seeking information on how to sign up to play in the tournament can be mistaken as a letter from the child.

When his scribbled application form to participate in the qualification contest of the Open is delivered to the offices of the organizers, an assistant of a female is able to spot something is off and it’s outside the perception that her male supervisors which are led by Rhys Ifans’ Keith McKenzie who would consider their self a golf professional, even if they’re not.

Maurice is, however, learning the language of the game and purchases any equipment he can get his hands on. “So shiny, aren’t they?” He gushes about the new clubs he bought. He has added an argyle vest to his collection, wearing it over his work attire as if he were a superhero in disguise.

In at the Open, Maurice quickly proves his innocence by bringing down ethics, professionalism and tradition and leaves the other players confused, and a sympathetic journalist (Ash Tandon) ignites a fascinating story. Ifans’ atypical turn as the punctilious walkie-talkie-wielding McKenzie is just the right counterpoint to the relentless optimism Rylance channels, even after Maurice gleans that “open” is not a literal description.

In a bid to keep the embarrassing lapse from being revealed, McKenzie urges Maurice to “quietly gather up your things.” But the word eventually gets out, and a media dispute ensues between the two men as McKenzie determined to ban Maurice, who is a happy victim, from all clubs in the U.K.

In the pubs of working people, Maurice is cause for celebration. In the company of Mike’s wheeling and dealing business associates and friends, he’s a laughing stock. In the days in which Margaret Thatcher was ascending the political ranks and the Sex Pistols were scandalizing the nation, Maurice’s adventures are a typical middle-aged, earthy alternative to the punk movement. Maurice is completely honest and delightfully absurd. He was able to make back-to-back performances at the British Open in various guises and even under his name Arnold Palmtree — is one of the many delights of his life.

With strong performances at the centerof the screen, the constant nudging of the score isn’t necessary. However, such upbeat songs from the period in the soundtrack like “Build Me Up Buttercup,” “Nothing From Nothing” and “Ride Like the Wind” — especially the latter song when the inevitable chase with a golf cart is perfect for the film’s bouncy, happy bounce like the twins’ graceful dance moves.

The final chapter, which finds Maurice being honored in the States brings together the film’s main themes with a dazzling style His desire for recognition throughout the world, the difficult relationships with Mike and the story of love of Maurice as well as Jean. The words Maurice offers to honor his wife are sweet however, it’s in the manner Hawkins’ Jean takes them to give the scene its warm and uplifting energy.

Summary

This is one of the subtler moments within Phantom of the Open however, it does wear its fun-loving heart its sleeves. Roberts approach isn’t very shrewd however it is clear. He’s not averse to the Flitcrofts and it’s difficult to not root for Maurice and his flimsy professionalism. Forty years after his quest to win the golf world and we’re now facing an awards overflow that could be helped by some shrewd gate-crashers similar to his.


Movie Credits:

Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Production companies: BFI, BBC Film, Ingenious Media, Water & Power Productions, Baby Cow Productions
Cast: Mark Rylance, Sally Hawkins, Rhys Ifans, Mark Lewis Jones, Christian Lees, Jonah Lees, Jake Davies, Johann Myers, Steve Oram, Tim Steed, Ash Tandon
Director: Craig Roberts
Screenwriter: Simon Farnaby
Based on the book The Phantom of the Open: Maurice Flitcroft, The World’s Worst Golfer by Simon Farnaby and Scott Murray
Producers: Tom Miller, Nichola Martin, Kate Glover
Executive producers: Mark Rylance, Simon Farnaby, Craig Roberts, Mark Gooder, Alison Thompson, Peter Touche, Christelle Conan, Mary Burke, Emma Duffy, Rose Garnett, Christine Langan, James Swarbrick
Director of photography: Kit Fraser
Production designer: Sarah Finlay
Costume designer: Siân Jenkins
Editor: Jonathan Amos
Music: Isobel Waller-Bridge
Casting: Shaheen Baig

Rated PG-13, 1 hour 46 minutes

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