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Mark Rylance brings notorious golfer Maurice Flitcroft to this brilliantly cast feel-good comedy.

Reviews by Joyce Glasser The Phantom of Openness (March 18, 2022) Certificate 12A, 106 mins

Twelve years before Maurice Flitcroft became the world’s worst golfer by a score of 121 (49 over par) at the 1976 British Open Golf Championship, Bob Dylan said, “You know there’s no such thing as success and failure, and failure is no failure at all Success.” Some of our finest film directors have managed to turn failure into box office success by recognizing the pull of committed misfits who win our hearts. Dexter Fletcher (Rocket Man, Wild Bill) celebrated ski jumper Eddie the Eagle, who came last as representative of Great Britain at the 1988 Winter Olympics; and Stephen Frears (The Queen, The Grifters, My Beautiful Laundrette) paid tribute to opera lover Florence Foster Jenkins, about whom Stephen Pile wrote: “No one before or since has managed to free himself so completely from the shackles of musical notation.”

Pile who published The Book of Heroic Failures In 1979, Flitcroft could omit: he was a skilled daredevil who, as portrayed in Craig Roberts’ hilarious biopic, The Phantom of Opennesscontinued to compete under a stream of outrageous pseudonyms like Arnold Palmtree, always going above and beyond his welcome salute.

In contrast to Roberts’ subpar writing and directing, only Jim and Eternal beautyhere Roberts wisely lets Simon Farnaby (mindhorn and paddington 2), adapting his own funny biography of Flitcroft (written with Scott Murray). Mark Rylance, a master of deadpan humor and amiable misfit, does the rest by nailing Flitcroft, the 46-year-old crane operator from Vickers’s Armstrong shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness.

Flitcroft doesn’t know what to do with his life as a shipyard layoff threatens, and Flitcroft has an epiphany jumping through the canal late one night and watching American golfer Tom Watson’s surprise win at the 1975 British Open. Those who have seen King Richardwill remember Richard Williams’ epiphany watching tennis pro Virginia Ruzici win in 1978 – an accidental attunement that determined the future of his unborn tennis pro daughters.

With the help of his supportive wife Jean (Sally Hawkins), who is always grateful to Maurice for marrying an outlaw single mother, we watch the Flitcrofts’ hilarious registration for participation in the Open and Maurice’s training sessions on a windswept beach. Even if he could afford the membership fees, there are still the costs of the necessary clothing and connections to the members to be nominated. Then there is the waiting list.

Jean, a secretary at the shipyards, handles the forms but is confused about the terminology. Regarding handicap, they agree that Maurice should mention his arthritis. By entering “Pro”, Maurice can avoid many annoying questions, such as the numerical value of his handicap. When Jean is reluctant to turn pro despite never having played in his life, he replies, “You didn’t see me practice this morning.” To Flitcroft’s credit, he can play in any weather and, in fact, anywhere but on a Golf course, many hours practiced. He was banned from these after entering the Cumbria Country Club course.

Qualifying for the Open itself takes place at Merseyside’s Formby Golf Club and Maurice, competing under his own name for the first and last time, is letting his teenage son Gene Caddy drive. Dead serious, he tells a reporter, “I think my problem today is that I left my foursome in the car.” But when his game angered the pros and his 121 score caught the attention of Keith Mackenzie (Rhys Ifans), the top man R&A board, he takes Flitcroft’s uncompromising incompetence as a personal attack and banishes Flitcroft from the course.

This begins a hilarious (the correspondence appears to have been saved) correspondence between Flitcroft (Jean types away) and his nemesis. We see the secretary, rejected and taunted for warning Mackenzie about Flitcroft’s suspicious application, dutifully typing in his answers.

Flitcroft’s stepson Mike (James Davies, excellent) has become a rising star on the Vickers-Armstrong executive team tasked with overseeing the move. Angry at his stepfather’s notoriety, Mike tells him that skipping work and embarrassing the shipyard with his illegal antics would cost him his job.

While Flitcroft had its fans, including Blythefield Country Club in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which hosted a Maurice G. Flintcroft tournament for the world’s worst golfer that inspired at least one young man to pursue a successful golf career, Roberts isn’t shy about it to show the cost of Flitcroft’s great folly. The family loses their home and Jean and Maurice spend their final years isolated in a cramped trailer.

Mickey grows estranged from his family, although there is a wonderful scene in which a trio of Japanese investors ask for the last name he shares with the golfer, who is notorious in Japan. Mickey’s horrified boss immediately denies the connection to salvage the deal, expecting company man Mickey to do the same.

When Maurice realizes he can’t enter another tournament, Jean suggests using an alias. In 1984 he put on a mustache and competed under the name Gerald Hoppy, a Swiss player. Unfortunately his caddy friend keeps calling him Maurice and by then Mackenzie could see Flitcroft’s signature on the resumes.

The unstoppable Flitcroft, to paraphrase Samuel Becket: “Try again. Fails again. Fails better.” He has three more attempts at the Open, the last in 1990 under the alias Gene Pacecki (as on the paycheck, which he never received).

Roberts and Farnaby go overboard to underscore the heartwarming nature of Flitcroft’s Every Dreamer Deserves A Chance pursuit, but Hawkins comes to the rescue as Jean, who spooks a Sun sportscaster (Ash Tanton) when she thinks his high score great is news. Just when you don’t know what dramatic freedom is and what is true, we meet the Flitcrofts’ twin sons, Gene and James (Jonah and Christian Lees). Chasing their own unlikely dream of becoming world champion disco dancers, they’re marching to us.



Mark Rylance brings notorious golfer Maurice Flitcroft to this brilliantly cast feel-good comedy.

Source link Mark Rylance brings notorious golfer Maurice Flitcroft to this brilliantly cast feel-good comedy.

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