I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” a few times in your life. Well, that phrase can certainly be applied to this film. On the surface Tommy’s Honour looks like a bland, boring, old fashioned golf movie, but that’s not what it actually is. It is a biography about the founding fathers of golf and the sport’s first superstar, Tommy Morris. Tom and Tommy Morris were a father and son team on the golf course and off of it.
The story starts out depicting the Morris family and their humble way of life in Scotland. In the 1800’s, golf was just a leisure activity that the gentlemen played for fun. It wasn’t until Tommy began to display his unique skills that the game took off and betting on it was a big part of its popularity. The movie does a nice overview of what the game was about and how its popularity grew, but that isn’t what this movie is focused on. The characters, Tommy specifically, is what takes this movie from a boring golf documentary into a compelling drama.
I must admit that I was skeptical about this film going into it. My initial opinion completely changed after I left the theater. It engrossed me. Casual movie fans and most people come across the trailer will assume this is purely a movie about golf, but that assumption may prevent someone from missing out on a fascinating story about a man bigger than the game of golf.
The film boasts a majority English cast, with Jack Lowden playing the lead role of Tommy Morris. The only “name” actor is Sam Neill of Jurassic Park fame. Don’t let the lack of household names dissuade you, the performances by these lesser known actors are very good. Ophelia Lovibond plays Morris’ love interest Meg Drinnen, who is a heck of a unconventional 19th century woman. She’s spunky, opinionated and self-assured and Lovibond does nice work portraying Drinnen’s strength.
What really draws you into the movie is the rollercoaster of emotion that Tommy endures in his life. The ups-and-downs are as heartbreaking as they are fascinating. This is a film about love, family and a man (Tommy Morris), who did things his way, amid resistance from everyone around him. The relationship between Morris and Drinnen is so playful and convincing. They are outsiders that are years ahead of their time with their progressive approach to life. Lowden and Lovibond really make it all come to life with their evident onscreen chemistry.
As far as some of the negatives go, the main one is that the movie does start out fairly slow. For those that come into it expecting more than golf, you won’t be immediately rewarded. The key is to wait out some of the golf heavy scenes that take place in the early portion of the film. Where the film starts to gain momentum is when Tommy meets Meg, that’s where the it becomes a lot more personable and less golf centric. I did have some issues attempting to understand the Scottish accents.
There is a simple verdict on Tommy’s Honour, which is that it’s a movie that should be given a fair chance. I learned a lot about golf, a sport I’m not even a fan of, but became interested due to the movie. It is very surprising that the story of Tommy Morris hasn’t been told before. I’m also glad that director Jason Connery decided to focus the movie on Tommy Morris the man, not the golfer. The whole golf aspect is a mere backdrop to the plot. I was hooked on the personal story of Morris, and the emotion that derived from it. Tommy’s Honour is certainly the most under-the-radar movie this year. As the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover, well don’t judge this movie by its trailer, there is so much more richness that is to be experienced.