PG | 1h 57min | Drama, Sport | 14 April 2017 (USA)
Synopsis: In every generation, a torch passes from father to son. And that timeless dynamic is the beating heart of Tommy’s Honour – an intimate, powerfully moving tale of the real-life founders of the modern game of golf.
Review: Matt Mungle
The new sports drama TOMMY’S HONOUR is as much an emotional journey of a father and son as it is about their legacy in the golfing world. Young Tommy Morris (Jack Lowden), as he was referred to, was one of the first golf prodigies in the late 1860’s. He was the first golfer to win the Open Championship three times in a row and to this day is considered one of the pioneers of professional golf; being inducted into the World Golf Hall of fame in 1975. His father Tom Morris (Peter Mullan) worked as a greens keeper and helped build and construct golf courses at that time. Old Tom Morris lived in a day when you knew your place. You worked hard, provided for your family, and passed down your skills to your sons. The wealthy men of that area would make wagers based on the playing skills of men like the Morris’s; tossing them a bit of the winnings. Unlike his father, Tommy refused to settle for the job of caddie to the rich. In doing so he not only broke free of the status quo but also often bumped heads with his dad.
The film is appealing on a couple of levels. From the sports side it is intriguing to watch the early stages of any modern sport. Here we see the golf game in its most crude form. The greens were little more than an un-mowed field with a few sand and water traps. But the popularity of the sport in the Scottish realm was as prominent as it is today. Many of the elements and structures of the modern game are subtly woven in to this narrative. Both of the Morris men were legendary golfers and ones that you knew you could bet on and win. Their playing style and influence certainly molded a lot of what we see today.
Another aspect of the film is the personal journey of young Tommy. We see him struggle with the class system of the day that tried to keep him from fully succeeding. His relationship with his father was full of tension and strife as they both tried to understand one another. Yet you can see the love that bound them together. The love for each other and the game of golf. Mullan delivers a fantastic performance as the older Morris. The lines on his face and the set of his eyes reflect the determination of the working class. He is the best at what he does and content with his role. Lowden too gives us a character that is moving and engaging. Like most young men with a gift and talent he is not content with letting others prosper off of his hard work. His frustration is warranted and Lowden delivers it with a hint of vulnerability that makes his character endearing.
It is not a perfect film and at times the story seems to jump a round a bit too much. We get many glimpses into the life of the Morris clan with many of them being a tad thin. I understand the intent is to acquaint you fully with the Tommy and his ambitions. But in doing so much of the continuity and synergy is lost.
TOMMY’S HONOUR is rated PG for thematic elements, some suggestive material, language and smoking. It is a well made film that would be a great father son outing. Loves of the sport too will appreciate the history of the game. I give it a strong 3 out of 5 mounds of dirt. I was emotionally engaged as well as fascinated by the early stages of the game.