‘Tommy’s Honour’ is a Hopelessly Dry Golf Drama

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Tommy's Honour

Golf is among the most popular sports in the world. It wasn’t always that way, though, as it was almost exclusively for the aristocratic set. You think only rich folks golf now? You should’ve seen it in the 19th century. The true story of how golf became a modern sport with professional ranks and die-hard fans is the story behind Tommy’s Honour, the historical sports drama from director Jason Connery. It’s a glossy, well-acted film that is hopelessly dry in its portrayal of a sport in transition. The class and familial drama of Tommy’s Honour are all exceedingly familiar as this well-intentioned drama slogs along.

In the mid-19th century Scotland, Tom Morris (Peter Mullan) is the greens-keeper at St. Andrews, dubbed “the Home of Golf” by its admirers. His son Tommy Morris (Jack Lowden) loves the game and has a natural ability to play the game at the highest level. Tommy dreams of one day playing golf professionally, something his father scoffs at in the rigid class structure of the era. The aristocratic Alexander Boothby (Sam Neill) also finds that Tommy’s future lies in tending to the greens of the course like his father. Eventually Tommy gets his shot to play and wows the people with his amazing golfing ability. He makes decent money and turns the world on its head with his meteoric rise that defies the class structure that traps people in their place before they’re even born. Tommy even finds love in Meg (Ophelia Lovibond), and marries her despite the shame that she carries for having once had a child out of wedlock. Finally, father and son team up in a match against the other top players in the sport in a match that will change the course of golf and the lives of the Morris family.

The leading duo of Jack Lowden and Peter Mullan deliver sturdy performance in the film. Unfortunately, the script by Pamela Marin adapting the book by Kevin Cook stumbles in trying to take these characters outside of a well-worn genre of the would-be prestige picture. It’s hard to take the film seriously when it’s a father and son screaming passionately about playing golf. Often these scenes play out like a parody of Oscar bait movies that one might find in a sketch comedy show. Tommy’s Honour does no better with the inherent class struggle of its story, playing out like countless other films about those who dared to dream beyond the trappings of a rigid social structure.

I think it’s safe to say that your level of enjoyment with Tommy’s Honour is dependent entirely on your own personal connection to the sport of golf. If, like me, you have no connection to the sport you’re not going to find anything new or refreshing about the well-worn tale of familial and class struggle but simply set against the backdrop of golf.

Tommy's Honour
  • Overall Score
2

Summary

A dry drama about the origins of professional golf, Tommy’s Honour is well-acted but familiar in its portrayal of familial drama and class struggle.

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