Tommy’s Honour makes for an enjoyable slice of social history and provides enough interest from community and familial drama to eclipse the attentions of the niche audience segment who care about the history of golf (exclusively the history of men’s golf, that is). Peter Mullan is virtually perfect as the older Tom, apart from one moment of poorly directed and unconvincing rage. Aside from Mullan and Ophelia Lovibond – and Jack Lowden, very briefly – performances are adequate rather than affecting.
Deprived of its audio Tommy’s Honour would seem much better than it is. Beautiful Scottish scenery is given time to shine in striking aerial shots, and Robert Macfarlane’s costumes conjure the Victorian age impressively.
Realism is boosted by the inclusion of a disabled child, yet Lowden looks much older than his character in the early part of the film. This is both an unfortunate distraction, and may lead to Tommy’s arrogance and occasional insufferable behaviour being over-harshly judged – it’s all too easy to forget how young he is. Several of the actors tend towards stilted delivery, and stiltedness also describes the overall mood of the film; Tommy’s Honour is a little dry and humourless.
Screenwriters Marin and Cook are occasionally guilty of awkward exposition, and a tired framing technique adds nothing to what is already a handsome period wannabe-weepie that hits all the expected notes. Giving Mullan more screen time only serves to emphasise just how much more appropriate his casting was than Lowden’s.
With by-the-numbers plot and structure, Tommy’s Honour is a nice and untaxing way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon, but is unlikely to linger in the mind afterwards. A braver look at prejudices only hinted at would have made it more memorable. Alas, it’s far too sanitised and polite.
CAST: Sam Neill, Ophelia Lovibond, Peter Mullan, Jack Lowden
DIRECTOR: Jason Connery
WRITERS: Pamela Marin, Kevin Cook
SYNOPSIS: The story of a father and son who had an enduring impact on the game of golf.