TOMMY'S HONOUR | REVIEW
Filmed entirely in Scotland, it was apt that Tommy’s Honour – based on Kevin Cook’s book of the same name – opened this year’s Edinburgh Film Festival to a packed house at the city’s Festival Theatre.
Directed by Jason Connery, son of former James Bond Sean, the film highlights the strained relationship between Old Tom Morris (Peter Mullan) and son Young Tom (Jack Lowden), who emulated his father to become golf’s first superstar – winning the Open on four occasions by the age of 21.
While the pair share a common interest in their love of golf – a feature of the film is how their personalities differ. Set in the Victorian era, Old Tom may be one of the finest golfers of his time, but he is not considered a gentleman and dutifully accepts his role as a caddie and coach to the rich members of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.
Young Tom, however, is the polar opposite and fights against his social status. He’s opportunistic, confident and, after winning his third Open Championship in 1870, he bursts into the clubhouse – which he is not permitted – to demand more money from the gentlemen, who place wagers on the outcome of his matches. “Your station in life was set before you were born,” says captain Alexander Boothby (Sam Neill). Eventually though, they give in.
That confidence also works with the ladies, too, as Young Tom woos older woman Meg Drinnen (Olivia Lovibond), against his parents’ approval, after they find out about her chequered past. But Young Tom’s love for Meg is a brief occasion where Old Tom has no control on his son’s decision-making in life. Young Tom is forced to turn down a lucrative move to Royal Blackheath in London upon the demands of his father, while a decision made by Old Tom on behalf of the pair later in the film has disastrous consequences, leaving the founding father of golf plagued with guilt.
Connery effectively portrays the image of golf in the mid to late 19th century, while the performances of Mullan, as the proud father, and Lowden, as the brash son with supreme talent, shine. The repetitiveness of identical golf shot after golf shot does get tedious and is unlikely to appeal to those whose interest in golf is minimal, but for those obsessed with the history of the game, and the rivalry between the Morris duo and the Park’s from Musselburgh, this journey back into the time of tweed is sure to be a captivating watch.
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