The Phantom of the Open proves infamy is its own form of fame in this true charming British drama.
Penned by Simon Farnaby, co-writer of Paddington 2, and member of CBBC’s Horrible Histories troupe, the quirky drama of The Phantom of the Open is directed by Craig Roberts and is as much stylish as it is a humble tale of shooting for the stars.
Based on the true story of wannabe golfer Maurice Flitcroft (Mark Rylance) who miracously managed to perform at the British Open despite having zero experience playing professionally, The Phantom of the Open is a brilliant telling of how we shouldn’t limit ourselves.
As the tale proves, there’s never any harm in trying, because what’s the worst that could happen – and if we fail, so what, at least we learned something.
This endearing story shows Maurice’s naivety for seeking acceptance in the sporting world so alien to his industrial shipping background.
Supporting by his wife, Jean Flintcroft (Sally Hawkins) Maurice throws himself wholeheartedly into the game of golf despite traditionalists like Keith McKenzie (Rhys Ifans) constantly trying to chip away at Maurice’s morale. Though Maurice never plays to seek validation, instead just tries to enjoy the game.
Where The Phantom of the Open excels is in Craig Robert’s stylistic directing, partnered with Isobel Waller-Bridge’s soundtrack.
Elevating the premise of a man playing golf awfully to a British spectacle treat.
Roberts does so with wistful colour dream sequences, a masterful interpretation and manipulation of aspect ratio, and the medium of cinema itself with the film alternating between digital and celluoid.
Waller-Bridge’s use of strings and keys partners with Roberts’ directorial flare, unifying his vision into an experience that marries audiovisual langauges and transforms their individual workings into a charming British drama.
This is the nation that when given the chance, dubbed a vessel Boaty McBoatface so of course we’d try to get into one of the most prestigous sporting events on a whim. No harm in trying after all.
Much like The Phantom of the Open, Maurice, and us as a nation, are unashamedly quirky, and I’m delighted to see Simon Farnaby and Craig Roberts’ collective vision become something as charming as it is.