Outside the world of golf the name Tommy Morris doesn’t mean much to the general populace, but to the avid golfer both the Junior and Senior Morrises played a profound role in sporting history. Based on actual events, “Old Tom” (Peter Mullan) was the greens keeper at The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, Scotland. He was a champion golf professional and was also known for his championship golf clubs and balls. He founded the modern day concept of the open tournament. If that was not enough, he is credited with establishing the 18-hole standard for golf courses. Even with all of these credentials within the game of golf it paled in comparison to the birth, training and athletic skills of his son, Tommy Morris (Jack Lowden).
The younger Morris proved to be a sporting prodigy and this became evident during his teen years where he began to outshine his father on the golf course. Before adulthood, he won three Opens and started to gain a significant following amongst golfing fans and started drawing crowds to each event. This father and son duo continued to work together to raise the profile of the game, but clashed on many of the restrictions of social class within the golfing community. Young Tom began to make a reputation and money from his fame and giftedness on the course, becoming the first golfing champion to make a living from the game. Then he married Meg Drinnen (Ophelia Lovibond), the one true love of his life. This met opposition within the Morris clan because of rumors of her checkered past. Tom’s fame and the familial struggles brought about a dangerous mix within the Morris family which led to a tragedy that effected their family and the game of golf.
Tommy’s Honour could be relegated to mere fans of golf, but the drama of the Morris family does provide enough to make this something for people who know nothing of the game. The central subject matter is designed for the sport enthusiast, but it did not forget to include the humanity behind the legend of Tommy Morris. Even though the pacing is reminiscent of watching an eighteen-hole game, it does contain the random hole-in-one experiences to keep the audiences attention.
These dramatic elements do provide the impassioned relationship between the father and son. Jack Lowden has seen a rise in his career this year that proves that he can portray the passion of the young Morris throughout his short life in golf. While Peter Mullan is a beautifully understated figure that encapsulates the sportsman and father, but does convincingly shows his love for his son with little emotional output. This is the quiet effect of Jason Connery’s direction which allows the father-son relationship to reflect the game they love. Being a game of patient calculation and nuance, he is able to show this aspect played out in the lives of the senior and junior champions.
The potential water hazard experience of this cinematic event comes in the romance between Tommy Morris and Meg Drinnen. In the beginning, it is hard to determine if their love is merely based in infatuation or if it is true love, but this adds a welcomed degree of attention and care within the storyline. Ophelia Lovibond delivers a solid performance and helps to show that the love story does prove to be a significant part of their lives and history. These two relational elements are what help this to keep the film on par and provides enough for viewers to be drawn into the narrative regardless of their knowledge of the game.
REEL DIALOGUE: What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?
During the times that the Morrises were not on the golf course, there is consistent theme throughout Tommy’s Honour of loss in their family. Some were greater than others, they ranged from a mother’s loss of a child to marriage to a father’s loss of his child. This spectrum builds a platform for different depictions of how humanity confronts loss.
Grief can manifest in different ways in people based on their family history, the season of life they may be in or the suddenness of how the tragedy that occurs. Evaluating or counselling individuals through the grieving process can be long and challenging, but regardless of the length of the process, hope and peace have to come into a person’s life.
Relying on friends and family during these times is critical, but even those with the best intentions will fail to provide what is needed most. Throughout a time of grief, this is another time where God is at his best. Why? He delivers the answers we need. Turning to the God of the Bible during times of loss can provide a peace and hope that goes beyond comprehension.
The next question is determining where to start. Besides asking for help from a local church pastor, two key portions of the Bible provide a great start to assistance with grief: Psalms 23 & 147 and the Gospel of John.
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