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Outside the world of golf the name Tommy Morris doesn’t mean much to the general populace, but to an avid golfer both the Junior and Senior Morrises played a profound role in sporting history. Based on actual events, “Old Tom” (Peter Mullan) was the greens keeper at The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, Scotland. He was a champion golf professional and was also known for his championship golf clubs and balls. He founded the modern day concept of the open tournament. If that was not enough, he is credited with establishing the 18-hole standard for golf courses. Even with all of these credentials within the game of golf it paled in comparison to the birth, training and athletic skills of his son, Tommy Morris (Jack Lowden).
The younger Morris proved to be a sporting prodigy and this became evident during his teen years where he began to outshine his father on the golf course. Before adulthood, he won three Opens and started to gain a significant following amongst golfing fans and started drawing crowds to each event. This father and son duo continued to work together to raise the profile of the game, but clashed on many of the restrictions of social class within the golfing community. Young Tom began to make a reputation and money from his fame and talents on the course, becoming the first golfing champion to make a living from the game. But the family is thrown into chaos after Young Tom marries the love of his life, Meg Drinnen (Ophelia Lovibond).
Tommy’s Honour could be relegated to mere fans of golf, but the drama of the Morris family does provide enough intrigue to make this film something for people who know nothing of the game. The central subject matter is designed for a sports enthusiast, but it did not forget to include the humanity behind the legend of Tommy Morris. Even though the pacing is reminiscent of watching an eighteen-hole game, it does contain the random hole-in-one experiences to keep the audience’s attention.
These dramatic elements do provide the impassioned relationship between the father and son. Jack Lowden has seen a rise in his career this year that proves that he can portray the passion of the young Morris throughout his short life in golf. While Peter Mullan is a beautifully understated figure that encapsulates the sportsman and father but does convincingly shows his love for his son with little emotional output. This is the quiet effect of Jason Connery’s direction which allows the father-son relationship to reflect the game they love. Being a game of patient calculation and nuance, he is able to show this aspect played out in the lives of the senior and junior champions.
The potential water hazard experience of this cinematic event comes in the romance between Tommy Morris and Meg Drinnen. In the beginning, it is hard to determine if their love is merely based on infatuation or if it is true love, but this adds a welcomed degree of attention and care within the storyline. Ophelia Lovibond delivers a solid performance and helps to show that the love story does prove to be a significant part of their lives and history.
These two relational elements are what help this to keep the film on par and provides enough for viewers to be drawn into the narrative regardless of their knowledge of the game. This answers the question on whether this is a film for golf fans only. The pace of the film is reminiscent of watching a golf tournament, long walks between the key historical elements. Tommy’s Honour does provide enough familial drama and athletic theatrics to make it worth the jumping out onto the course to see the action.