Admittedly, when I think of watching the game of golf on television, I automatically think it’s nap time. I will also admit that I cannot play the game to save my life. In fact, I’ve hit a birdie or two, but the living kind…wildlife beware when I pick up a set of clubs! While I am not a fan of the game, I am a fan of the new film “Tommy’s Honour,” starring Jack Lowden and Ophelia Lovibond and directed by Jason Connery. The film may look to be a biopic about the origins of golf, but it is truly so much more than that. It is a story about relationships, particularly that of a father and son as well as a beautiful love story with both stories propelled forward with golf as the driving force.
Tommy Morris, Jr. (Jack Lowden) is a caddy’s son and that is what he is expected to be when he grows up, but he has other plans. He’s an exceptional golfer and he wants more out of life than his father’s predetermined destiny. Playing competitively in the late 1800’s hasn’t taken on the same life as it has in today’s world of golf. Tommy, however, sees the potential and at every possible fork in the road, he takes the path less traveled, much to his father’s chagrin. This path isn’t an easy one as Tommy and his father are at odds and Tommy Jr. is also, perhaps unwittingly, fighting a much bigger fight…that of inequality. We also see this as he falls in love with a woman with a disreputable past; one which his mother seems unwilling to allow and accept. But this head-strong Scotsman will not be deterred and proves to be not just a golfer, but a pioneer in recognizing social wrongs, but most importantly, it is a bitter-sweet love story showing us the power and depth of true love.
The story is a complicated one, delving deeply into the muddy waters of various types of relationships. “Tommy’s Honour” eloquently captures the stressful and oftentimes frustrating times in a father and son’s relationship. Seeing this from both sides of the coin enables us to truly feel both empathy and sympathy for both Tommy Sr. and Tommy Jr. A typical young man in many ways, he rebels against his parents’ wishes, yet he still maintains a certain respect and loyalty until he finds and falls in love with Meg (Lovibond). The two, similar in many ways, compliment one another, creating a complete couple. With disapproving parents, it is Meg’s fortitude that is inspiring. The delicate balance among family members, new and old, is carefully crafted in this film giving it a sense of reality while it clings to the beauty of true love on every level.
The film eloquently layers meaningful dialogue, the subtleties of non-verbal language, and stunning visual cinematography to transport us into this world. We understand every emotion from each of the characters and can almost feel the sea breeze or the warmth of the fireplace burning in the quaint and crowded cottage. We learn of the harshness of this particular family and the segregations and inequities of the classes as well as that of men and women in this era. Tommy Jr. is different and everything he touches, he changes. While he is far from a perfect young man—he loved to imbibe a bit too much and gambling was just a source of income—he knew he wanted or actually, needed more. Buried beneath all of this we find the game of golf–its origins and development—and Tommy’s impact. And who knew that this game was once a rather raucous event!
Lowden simply shines in this lead role, paying homage to Tommy Morris Jr.’s life. Carefully, Lowden peels back the layers of this complicated man, allowing us to know him. Lowden’s natural Scottish accent gives us an even greater sense of authenticity, but it is his ability to embody this character that feels absolutely genuine. The connection also feels real between he and Lovibond’s character of Meg. As a determined and shunned woman in a less than accepting town and era, we feel her pain and humiliation and feel pride as she shows us her strength. While the entire cast is sublime, it is Peter Mullin’s portrayal as Tommy Sr. that completes this heartfelt family story. Together, this ensemble cast produces a convincingly earnest tale that will reaffirm your belief in love.
To create such a powerful scenario, the script must not only be strong, but the vision of the director has to be equally sound. Given that tissues were needed is the testament to the solid writing and directing of this engaging film.
“Tommy’s Honour” cannot and should not be classified as a golf story. It’s an exciting and emotional story about life, obligation, and love. It’s a beautiful portrayal of the power of love and our relationships in life. While the film centers around an exceptionally talented golfer, and we do learn a bit about the origins, at the heart of it all is love.
Watch for the interview with the lead actors, producers, and the director!