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  • Writer's pictureEllis Barthorpe

The Phantom of the Open ★★★★

Craig Roberts

Starring Mark Rylance, Sally Hawkins, Rhys Ifans, Ash Tandon, Jonah Lees, Christian Lees

One of the greatest rising talents in British cinema currently is Simon Farnaby. The man made famous to most for his appearance in hit children's TV show Horrible Histories has now gained a name for himself as a writer and producer, most prolifically for the beloved Paddington 2. Here, he hands his script to director Craig Roberts (Eternal Beauty, Just Jim) to direct a very capable Mark Rylance as "professional" golfer The Phantom of the Open.

Instantly you feel the warmth that this film will radiate throughout, as we hear a stuttering Maurice Flitcroft (Rylance) asking for a cup of tea with six sugars. This simple yet joyous British humour is carried on until the film's closing seconds; and as cleverly written as the script is, Rylance's wonderful performance as the sportsman excels it even further.

The film runs at a slightly too long hour-and-forty-minutes, but in that time we have established family beats (especially from a terrific Sally Hawkins), a loveably unbelievable plot and it still finds space to add laugh-out-loud comedy moments.

Maurice is so charming that you await his next punchline, and the ones that catch you off guard are the best. With some visual gags and visual sequences so unafraid to be what they are, this feels so complete and well thought out; you can't imagine the story being told in any other way. There are some of those familiar biopic plot beats, though it is forgiven as we learn about a golfer that many haven't heard about, and it's that lack of knowledge that takes this above par.

Perhaps finishing a hole too late, The Phantom of the Open is charming, loving and laugh-out-loud funny.

The Phantom of the Open available in cinemas now

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