Tommy's Honour review

If you sit down and actually think long and hard about it, Scotland is probably the last place on Earth that you would have expected a game like golf to be invented. It's cold and wet for most of the year, and the rough terrain is not all that hospitable and conducive to hitten a small white ball across a bloody great paddock and into a tiny hole. Being a game best enjoyed on a warm, sunny day in the great outdoors, you would have expected to have been invented solmewhere like Jamaica, or the Bahamas, or even Australia. But no, it was created up in bleak, miserable Scotland, by gruff beardy men wearing heavy woolen three-piece suits.

These days golf is a fairly egalitarian game with most people around the world having access to decent, affordable public courses. But in the early days of the game, in the mid-1800s, it was a sport for the rich and titled. The period drama Tommy's Honour tells the story of two men who had qhite the impact on the game in its early days - Tom Morris (Peter Mullan), a green-keeper, club-maker and caddie at the now-famous St Andrews course, and his son Tommy (Jack Lowden), who decided he didn't want to be just the son of a caddy and went on to become one of the greatest golfers of the 19th century.

If you are not a fan of golf films, then fear not - this is not really a film about golf, and what little golf there is in the film is somewhat amusing as the game itself and the courses have changed a LOT in the past 150 years or so. Tommy's Honour is a drama about family and class, and one man's fight to use his sporting talent to break free of the rigid class structure of his time. Young Tommy may be a champion golfer, but as the St Andrews club president Alexander Boothby (Sam Neill) tells him, he will never be considered a "gentleman" because of his working-class background. As father and son, Mullan and Lowden are perfectly cast. There is genuine chemisty between the two, and the father-son relationship is totally believeable - a lot of which comes down to their shared love of golf. There's also a fine romantic subplot as young Tommy meets and woos waitress Meg Drinnen (Ophelia Lovibond), who his mother thinks is beneath them.

Capably directed by Jason Connery (who has probably seen more than his fair share of courses in his life thanks to father Sean's love of golf), Tommy's Honour is a fascinating biopic of two men whose influence on the noble game cannot be underestimated.

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Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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