I was a hesitant when it came to watching The Phantom of the Open, not only because I am not a fan of golf and the film being centred around golf, but it was billed to be about a world-famous sports moment that neither myself nor any of my sports crazy friends had ever heard of.
But The Phantom of the Open is surprisingly a hilarious well written biographical comedy drama that can even be enjoyed by those who despise golf, just like me. I even know of people who hate sport that have fallen in love with this film.
Directed by Craig Roberts, The Phantom of the Open follows the events that led to one of the most comical things that the golfing world has ever seen. Maurice Flitcroft had always been a dreamer, but he has also always provided for his family, made up his ever-loving wife Jean (Sally Hawkins) and sons Michael (Jake Davies), Gene (Christian Lees) and James (Jonah Lees).
However, when financial times hit the UK hard, it looks more and more likely that Maurice is going to lose his job, and so, he begins to look for another money-making scheme. And while some of his friends turn to some criminal activity, Maurice suddenly discovers the world of golf and how much money you can make from it while watching late night TV. So, Maurice goes out, gets some clubs, and starts practicing hellbent on being able to play in the British Open. The only problem is he stinks as a golfer but feels with some creative paperwork he can make it to one of golf’s most prestigious tournaments.
There are two things that I should probably point out at this time. Firstly, this is a real story, I have since verified this because I was doubtful when I first watched it, and secondly, I should point out that this is not an over-the-top comedy like I thought it would be. Instead, the reason that this film works so well is because it takes a leaf out of the more successful British comedy shows and uses the general humour of the story to get a laugh rather than trying to overdo things.
The other thing that really hit me with The Phantom of the Open is just how lovable and relatable the characters are. From what I have read about the real events, many think that in real life Maurice was a vindictive person but from what we see in the film, he is a man who had a dream and just wanted to provide for his family. Something that I am sure many of us can relate to.
A lot does happen in the film, from family members turning on each other to characters going through a range of emotions, all of which is passed onto the audience via the amazing screenplay written by Simon Farnaby. The Phantom of the Open is a film that will make you laugh but it is also one that will make you cry, as it does show some of the sadder moments of Maurice’s life.
That screenplay is brought to life with a brilliant acting performance by Mark Rylance who deserves to win awards for this film, and that is not something I say about comedies very often. He carries the feature for a lot of the time and manages to capture every emotion that he is called to deliver. From deep emotion scenes to moments where he is trying to get a laugh, Rylance shines in all of them. He is well supported by Sally Hawkins, but I must be honest, this is Rylance’s film from start to finish.
The Phantom of the Open may be a comedy that will make you laugh out loud at times, but it is also a film that is a pure snapshot of human emotion. I may have wondered whether this would have been a film I would have enjoyed before seeing it, but now I know The Phantom of the Open is one that I cannot wait to see again.