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film review

Mark Rylance as Maurice Flitcroft in The Phantom of the Open.nick wall/Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics / Mongrel Media

The Phantom of the Open

Directed by Craig Roberts

Written by Simon Farnaby

Starring Mark Rylance, Ian Porter and Sally Hawkins

Classification PG; 106 minutes

Opens in select theatres June 17

Critic’s Pick

Never has there been a better time to delve into the story of Maurice Flitcroft, a British crane operator who became known as “Britain’s worst golfer.” And never has there been a better time to honour him onscreen.

Thankfully, that’s exactly what director Craig Roberts does with his dreamy and fantastical take on the man who tried tirelessly to qualify for the British Open despite never playing professional golf. (Or golf on a proper green, for that matter.) Sir Mark Rylance portrays Roberts with such warmth, sincerity and a flawless childlike naivety, it’s easy to root for the optimistic underdog – and even easier to understand why his wife Jean (whom Sally Hawkins embodies so tenderly) and the general public go on to stand by and celebrate him.

Sally Hawkins as Jean Flitcroft in The Phantom of the Open.Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics / Mongrel Media

Of course, golf fans and readers of the biography on which this film is based know that due to not possessing the necessary (or any) skills, Flitcroft never realized his dreams of becoming a traditional golf pro. But that’s what makes this story so special: He may not have landed spectacularly amidst the elite onto which professional golf is built, but Flitcroft’s romance with big dreams and joy amidst bleakness is a reminder that there’s power and braveness in shooting for the stars.

A necessary escape from our own day-to-day grinds, The Phantom of the Open is a welcome reprieve from the belief that there’s an expiry date on becoming the people we hoped to be. Just be careful which golf clubs you break into.

Special to The Globe and Mail

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