The Phantom of the Open
Based on the true story of “The World’s Worst Golfer”, The Phantom of the Open stars Mark Rylance as Maurice Flitcroft, a crane worker with aspirations of playing in the British Open, despite never having played golf before. Through a complete fluke, he ends up in the championship; it goes about as well as might be expected, but his performance goes down in history and changes his life forever.
The script is very intelligently written, with Horrible Histories alumnus Simon Farnaby demonstrating his strong comedic chops along with compelling character work, while also offering astute commentary on topics such as classism without losing narrative momentum. Importantly, the writing goes out of its way to really explore optimism as a concept, challenging the idea that having a positive outlook is naïve or shallow, and showing it for the complex and difficult – but ultimately worthwhile – constant process that it is.
A story as great as Maurice Flitcroft’s needed a strong cast to do it justice, and thankfully The Phantom of the Open’s cast more than provide in that regard. Rylance’s performance as Maurice really holds the film together: he’s a very charming comedic everyman with some great line delivery, but is also able to give the emotional scenes the pathos they need. Sally Hawkins is a perfect comedic counterpart as his wife, Jean, and the chemistry between the two goes a long way in making the story’s beats land as powerfully as they do.
The Phantom of the Open is a delightful film, effortlessly funny and charming with some excellent characterisation and smart, but subtle commentary. It’s very unashamedly designed to tug at the heartstrings, but does so with a lot of sincerity, telling an entertaining and hopeful story without once leaning into the cynical. And, since this review is missing any golf-based wordplay, The Phantom of the Open absolutely hits a hole in one.
The Phantom of the Open is released nationwide on 15th April 2022.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for The Phantom of the Open here: