Published on June 22nd, 2016 | by Allan Brown0
EIFF 2016: Tommy’s Honour Review
Running Time: 117 minutes
Director: Jason Connery
Writers: Pamela Marin, Kevin Cook
Cast: Jack Lowden, Sam Neill, Ophelia Lovibond, Peter Mullan
Opening this year’s 70th Edinburgh International Film Festival was director Jason Connery’s Scottish film; Tommy’s Honour (Clip). The narrative – a biopic in many ways, tells the true story of golfing legends, Tom Morris – a respected green keeper and founder of the Open Championship, and his son, Tommy Morris Jr, who won his first Open Championship, aged just 17 – a record which still stands proud today. Set in St Andrews during the 1860s – 1870s, the film centres on their complex father son relationship, as well as their pioneering influence in shaping the modern game.
Despite the subject matter, Connery is careful in balancing the narrative. Sure it’s a story about golf and golfers, but even to the uninitiated – or uninterested for that matter, there is a wonderful character study at play that both Peter Mullan and Jack Lowden fully embrace, giving two magnificent nuanced performances.
The cinematography (Gary Shaw) is beautiful throughout. Sweeping aerial shots of the rugged Scottish coastline and the many stunning location shoots in and around many remote golf courses, only enhance the visual look and quality of the film.
However, despite all that Tommy’s Honour gets right, it does lose its way during the second act, falling at times into a pool of clichéd romanticism and dull predictability. A sharper focus on the fight against the ridged class system that plagued their efforts in revolutionising the game, may have presented a more satisfying angle for the narrative to take. It could also be argued that too often the music (although delightful) is used as a crutch instead of an aid, there to give a sense of rousing drama – particularly during the many golf tournaments, where little to no visual drama really exists. These scenes are there to drive sense of direction and jeopardy into the narrative, but they rarely hit their intended mark.
Summary: Tommy’s Honour is a light entertaining family film and fitting tribute to the Morris boys. However, It does lose its momentum early on as it meanders its way through one cliqued sub-plot after another, never fully committing to any. If it was not for the grounded performances from the ever impressive Peter Mulan and charismatic Jack Lowden, this inoffensive period piece may have been better suited for daytime television.