Ben Oliver

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The Phantom of the Open

An open championship should be open to everyone.
01 September 2022

The story of Maurice Flitcroft (Mark Rylance), a crane driver from Barrow-in-Furness who applied to enter the British Open Golf championship and through a clerical error got accepted. He went on to card the worst score in tournament history and became a minor celebrity.

Tonally and thematically similar to Eddie the Eagle, The Phantom of the Open mostly succeeds where the former fails. Chalk it up perhaps to an arrow-straight lead performance from Mark Rylance and a brillient supporting cast (is Sally Hawkins ever bad in anything?).

The screenplay comes from Paddington 2 writer Simon Farnaby and while it’s not the masterwork that Paddington was, there are a few touches of carefully dosed sentimentality in there that give it plenty of warmth even at Flitcroft’s lowest hour. It’s charming rather than cloying even if perhaps it’s not really doing anything new.

Add to that some crafty direction, set design and a good score—The Phantom of the Open ends up being more birdie than bogey.