DVD Movie Review: Tommy's Honour

By Thom Compton 03.11.2017

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Tommy's Honour (UK Rating: PG)

Like it or not, golf's been around a really long time. Tommy's Honour tackles one of the sport's most important duos, father-son team of Tom and Tommy Morris. While it's generally an excellent film - out now via Thunderbird Releasing in the UK - it has some issues keeping the interest up throughout it's almost two hour run time.

The story is not just about this father-son duo. In fact, Old Tom has much less screen time than Tommy does. Tommy (Jack Lowden, Dunkirk), really has to carry a majority of the scenes by himself, and to his credit, he absolutely nails it. Tommy rides a fine line between confident and cocky, and Lowden excels at riding that line. Old Tom, played exquisitely by Peter Mullan (War Horse), is a hardened old man, believing in appreciating his place and keeping to it. When the younger Tommy begins to strike outward, trying to excel beyond his place in society, it noticeably rattles his father.


 
What's great about Tommy's Honour is that, while its central focus is on golf, it's not really about that. It's about these two men, and by association, the people around them, and their lives. With other characters like Meg (Ophelia Lovibond, Guardians of the Galaxy) and Alexander (the always powerful Sam Neill, Jurassic Park), this is a lovely cast that more than proves its worth as the screen time runs out.

Some of the best moments, though, are with Tommy being a young man. By the end, it's hard to believe (not in a good way) that Tommy was as young as he was. Watching him fall in love, though, hang out with his friends, and become a renowned golfing legend is genuinely enjoyable viewing. Meg, Tommy's love interest, has a small sub-plot that really drives the central theme home. The clubhouses that ran gold tournaments back then were very similar to the cliché idea of the country club now. Anyone below the upper ranks is viewed as less than. This means the real story behind Tommy's Honour is that this young man, and in some ways his father, fought to not only buck tradition, but also be viewed as on the same level as his peers.

Sadly, the whole experience isn't without its wrinkles. For most of the film, Old Tom is immensely unlikeable. He spends a lot of the time throwing a wrench in his son's plans, remarkably belittling him for his iconoclast behaviour. Towards the end, he stoops remarkably low and, thankfully, Tommy calls him out on it. The real shame is that, throughout the film, there are bad guys, but no real antagonist. Alexander's holier than thou mentality, a few rival golfers who are more bully than rival, and even Tommy's occasionally self destructive behaviour never really feel like a proper bad guy. Unfortunately, and very unintentionally, Old Tom ends up taking most of this upon himself.


 
Also, a good movie gives its protagonist something to rail against; an obstacle to overcome. Bucking tradition is always fine and dandy, but you had better have a good plan on how to do it. Director Jason Connery, unfortunately, doesn't seem to have that. Instead, the events play out, and only at the end does Tommy have to overcome something. Sure, he has to prove himself to the elitists but, again, that never feels like it's as difficult as it should be. After all, they need him way more than he needs them.

Even when Tommy and company start to do better when squaring off against their rivals, it doesn't feel like they themselves got any better. It just feels like their opponents all became miraculously inept. If not a big fan of golf, some of the shots taken may look weird and unnatural, while Tommy and his companions always look like savants. By no means does this make the film bad, per se, but it does make some of the significance of the story, the finale in particular, feel much less significant.

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10
Jason Connery offers a compelling and thoughtful story of two men who must come together, despite their differences. While it's not a very original idea, it does manage to work out well enough here that recommending Tommy's Honour is, in and of itself, very easy. If only it had a better structure, its enemies were a bit more compelling, and one of its chief characters didn't feel like a bad guy so often. Perhaps it's meant to display that the whole world is against Tommy's vision. Unfortunately, it just feels like a lack of direction in places.

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