The Phantom of the Open: unmistakably British fun


What do you think of when you think of ‘British’ films? James Bond and Harry Potter come to mind. Hugh Grant comes to mind. Legends like Sam Mendes & Christopher Nolan come to mind.

But, between them all, an entire sub-genre comes to mind. The ‘quirky comedy’; warm hearted, selfless and eccentric comedies centralising around one novel idea. Talking bear travels to London to find a new home? Paddington. Man steals priceless painting just to stop OAPs paying a TV license? The Duke. Aging people travel to India to reconnect with their life? The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. That list is endless. But this year a new film joins, and it’s a worthy spot.

The Phantom of the Open is a true story about a simple crane driver, Maurice Flitcroft. He wants nothing more in life than to participate in the 1976 British Open Golf Championship. But with a record breaking score of 121 and dubbed ‘the worst golfer in the world’, we follow the ups and downs of him and his family following the fateful tournament.

It’s a joyful film that whimsically tells this remarkable but true tale. Like every good British ‘quirky comedy’, it gently pulls at the heart strings with a properly sharp script. At times the more surreal scenes occasionally fall onto the gimmicky, but it’s heart is always in the right direction.

And the success of this is down to Mark Rylance and his dazzling fake teeth. Often garnering a mix of humorous disguises throughout the runtime, his earnest performance as the unflinching Maurice Fletcher is the beating heart. He’s relatable, and that’s hilarious. With wonderful support from Sally Hawkins as his wife, Jean, it tells a story of a man who promised the love of his life champagne, caviar and diamonds; and he vows to deliver.

You’ll be entertained throughout every minute, and the ultimate message couldn’t hurt a fly. When we’re so soaked up by the harsh realities of 2022, it’s films like these that absorb you into the idea that failure could lead to nothing but success.

Any Good? No film makes me prouder of being terrible at golf...