It wouldn’t be a surprise if audiences, while watching the British biographical comedy-drama The Phantom Of The Open, whisper in disbelief to the person sitting next to them in the cinema, ‘this can’t possibly be based on a true story!!’
Maurice Flitcroft (Mark Rylance) was a dreamer and became a legend of the golf world – he went down in history, but for all the wrong reasons. He had never held a golf club and yet managed to enter the 1976 British Open Championship achieving the worst score imaginable in the most prestigious sport’s history.
He described his obsession as ‘a calling – it was destiny’. A reporter asked what made him enter the open, “was it a joke?” Flitcroft instantly became a national folk hero affectionately labelled ‘the people’s golfer’. In total he entered the open three times under the guise of other golfers, hence his nick names ‘the great pretender’ and ‘phantom of the open’.
Was Flitcroft living the dream or was he just a loser? Were his twin sons justified in stating that their endeavours in life could have been more successful had they had a different father?
The Phantom Of The Open is such a delight to watch. A wonderful selection of hit songs from the 70s including Swedish band ABBA complement and add flavour to the time frame of the film. It’s emotional, feel good viewing and the comedy stems predominantly from the scenes where Flitcroft plays golf appallingly. The sequence where he makes his escape in a golf buggy upon being asked to leave the open is hysterical. His attitude also garners many laughs – incredibly he couldn’t believe he wasn’t voted the ‘sports personality of the year’!
Mark Rylance is likeable as Maurice Flitcroft and Sally Hawkins delivers a splendid performance as his wife, a woman who stood by her husband inspiring him to achieve his dream. The finale is unpredictably satisfying and there will be tears of joy.