The Phantom of the Open
4.5 out of 5 stars
Few people outside the golfing community would be familiar with Maurice Flitcroft. Still, to those within the sport, this man was legendary. In a very different era where players entered events via paper applications, the crane operator from Barrow-in-Furness, England, was able to enter the British Open. With this one innocent clerical error, he went from an unknown golfer to being a legend.
In his area of Britain, the only available jobs were at the local shipyard. Most went to work there at a young age and remained for the rest of their days. Despite having a family of five to support, Maurice (Mark Rylance) continued to dream of a life that did not include moving containers from ship to ship. On the day that he saw his first golf tournament on television, he felt the calling to become a golfer and enter the Open in 1976. Through a series of unexpected occurrences, he was able to play at the renowned tournament. Since it was his first round of golf, he shot the worst round in sporting history. Yet, this did not deter him from wanting to improve and return one day to play on the beautiful greens, even though he was banned from playing after his first outing.
Many components make this simple film based on the biography, The Phantom of the Open: Maurice Flitcroft, The World's Worst Golfer by Simon Farnaby and Scott Murray, translated well to the big screen. Most notably is the endearing character at the centre of the story, Maurice Flitcroft is one of those unassuming underdogs who audiences will fall in love with as the moments flash on the screen. Mark Rylance delivers a stunning performance as he depicts the human side of this blue-collar character while proving that dreams need not be relegated to the select few. Especially as Maurice does all he can to redeem himself in the eyes of the golfing community without realising how he has become a folk hero to people around the world.
Still, every outstanding performance usually is not enough to carry a movie through until the end. This is where director Craig Roberts (Tolkien) shines as he builds a supporting cast that enriches the screenplay without detracting from the main story. Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) continues to show how she can make an unassuming supporting role a stand-out addition to any project. Her turn as Jean Flitcroft provides the depth needed to take this from an inspirational sporting film to a compelling family drama with a comedic twist. Then to add his disco dancing twins and the myriad of stockyard friends to the mix, this becomes accessible to anyone looking for an unexpected tale of achieving your dreams.
REEL DIALOGUE: Should we aspire for dreams at any cost?
Maurice Flintcroft’s story confronts this world’s desire to achieve the dreams in our life. He seems to think that he can achieve something that no one else believes can be done. While he desires to be respected within the golfing community, his dream is answered unexpectedly. This unassuming sporting hero went on to do something extraordinary with his life and in the process, he can bring everyone else along with him.
In this world of 'believing in yourself' and 'if you believe it, you can do it,' we may realise that the answers to our dreams might come in different packages. The Bible tells us that in Psalm 139 it states that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by God, which moves our lives from ordinary to extraordinary. Not because of who we are, but because of who created us.
The challenge may be to not merely believe in ourselves, but to believe in the one who is the creator of dreams. Building into that relationship with God, as opposed to sacrificing our human relations for achieving our dreams.