In selected theaters this week from director Jason Connery and Roadside Attractions is a family history with the swing of a club and “Tommy’s Honour.”
Golf is in the blood of the Morris family as Old Tom (Peter Mullan) is the head greens keeper at St. Andrews Club teaching his son Young Tommy (Jack Lowden) the game. Both of their skill is well known being supported by the wealthy men of the club like Alexander Boothby (Sam Neill).
Tommy is consistently being told he will never be a gentleman, but he makes it clear to his father that he doesn’t want to be a caddy but a golfer. After three years of being the Open Champion at St. Andrews, he is asked to go to England to play there. Tom is not happy and believes Tommy’s place is at home with his family.
Then Tommy meets Meg (Ophelia Lovibond) who works as a server. Immediately smitten with her and lavishes attention to her surprise. Now earning a good living playing in tournaments, Tommy is finding happiness and takes on the Captain changing the financial relationship. The Captain is furious but agrees to the new arrangement because even he knows how good Tommy is.
In the meantime Tommy’s mother Nancy (Therese Bradley) isn’t happy with her sons choice of companionship and seeks out a secret about Meg she believes will change things. When confronted, Tommy doesn’t care at all and instead marries his love without either parent attending the ceremony.
Tom accepts his son’s choice and with the rest of the family attends dinner at the home Tommy recently purchased for his bride. When mother Nancy doesn’t attend, Meg confronts her with the story behind the secret and the pain it still causes her.
Again Tommy decides to expand and become more independent from those who back him, especially since he and Meg are expecting. While the golfing Morris’ are at a tournament, Tom receives word about Meg and withholds it from Tommy.
The results are devastating and as Tommy begins to follow a heartbreaking path, Tom stands by his son with a legacy that lasts to this very day!
Lowden as Tommy is a young man who believed that his destiny wasn’t to teach golf but to play the game. Constantly working on his game and with the help of his father creating new and inventive clubs, Lowden gives the younger Tommy a bit of grit and sass that one would expect. As he realizes what he wants for his life, he begins to stand up when others want him pushed down. I enjoyed Lowden’s portrayal very much.
Mullan as Tom is a man who is set in the way of how it’s always been. He sees Tommy’s path as fool-hearty and believes that each person should know his station in life. He is also a man who handles things quietly and tries to do what is best for his family. It is hard to read Tom and Mullan keeps it that way until the last frame of the film. What an amazing performance.
Lovibond as Meg is a young woman who has a secret but one that should never define her. When Tommy gives her attention it is easy to see that she believes she doesn’t deserve it, but after they are married she stands tall against anyone, including his mother!
Neill as Boothby has an attitude problem as I’m sure was common during this era. Boothby had no problem making money off of Tommy because he thought him inferior. When he is called out for it, Neill’s character takes a step back. I have to say I have enjoyed Neill’s ability to portray so many different characters and loved every one of them — good character or not-so-good.
Other cast include Peter Ferdinando as Major Molesworth, Max Deacon as David Strath, Kylie Hart as Lizzie Morris, Benjamin Wainswright as George Atwood, Willie Park as Ian Pirie, James Smillie as SKH Boyd, Paul Reid as George Atwood Snr. and Christopher Craig as Durie.
“Tommy’s Honour” is a beautiful film that is about the legacy of golf to be sure but also about those who gave the game heart and soul. The director has put together a piece that gives a brief history of this family because I’m sure there was so much more to tell.
The scenery and cinematography is absolutely amazing and the costumes added believability to the story that is told. I personally know a little about golf but had no idea the history of the Morris family and their contribution.
What makes “Tommy’s Honour” even more compelling is the beauty of the Morris family. Even with their trials and the clash of the two golfers who each believe that what they do is right. It’s not that either are wrong, just the changes that occur between generations.
In the end — it’s the pride of a father, love of a wife and soul of a rebel that brings the heart of a champion!