The pride of a father. The love of a wife. The soul of a rebel. The heart of a champion.
If you’re one of those who reckon golf is a good walk spoiled you might find period sporting biopic Tommy’s Honour a bit of a plod. Yet Jason Connery’s account of the modern game’s Scottish founding father and son, Old and Young Tom Morris, will keep golf fans engaged, though they might not be that impressed by the actors’ swings.
A bushy-bearded Peter Mullan plays the elder Morris, caddie master, greenskeeper, club and ball maker, and founder of the Open Championship at St Andrews in 1860. Old Tom observes forelock-tugging deference towards golf’s aristocratic patrons (including a haughty Sam Neill) and expects his son to follow suit. But rebellious Tommy (rising British actor Jack Lowden, soon to be seen in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk), an Open winner three times in a row while still in his teens, refuses to toe the line, both in his dealings with golf’s upper-class masters and in his relationship with scandal-tainted local waitress Meg Drinnen (Ophelia Lovibond).
Connery, himself the son of a famous father, doesn’t avoid all the traps of period biopics. The script (based on the book by Kevin Cook) plays safe and Connery’s shot selection is all too predictable, too. But Mullan and Lowden supply a moving depth of emotion, while the rowdy nature of early golf matches and the bristling class conflict off the course both prove something of an eye-opener.
Certificate PG. Runtime 112 mins. Director Jason Connery