'Tommy's Honour' is a conventional movie about unconventional people

( PG ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

'Honour' stars Peter Mullan and Jack Lowden as Tom Morris and his son, Tommy, who are two of the founders of modern golf. A few of the father-son tussles are powerful.

Courtesy of Neil Davidson/Roadside Attractions
'Tommy's Honour' stars Jack Lowden.

Golf isn’t the most galvanizing of subjects to make a movie about. The best one ever made, Ron Shelton’s “Tin Cup,” starring Kevin Costner, got around that problem by being about a golfer while focusing on just about everything except golf.

“Tommy’s Honour” can’t quite pull off that ploy because it’s tasked with being about two of the founders of modern golf: Tom Morris (Peter Mullan), known as Old Tom, and his son, Tommy (Jack Lowden), known – for some reason – as Young Tom. Even so, director Jason Connery and his writers, Pamela Marin and Kevin Cook, attempt to invest the father-son dynamic with enough roiling conflict to satisfy even Eugene O’Neill.

Old Tom, circa mid-19th century, is a groundskeeper and instructor at Scotland’s famous St. Andrews golf course. With a large family to feed, he’s mindful of his somewhat servile position with the hierarchy of upper-class twits who heed his golf advice without allowing him a club membership. Young Tom, a far more prodigious player than his father, does not want to end up a caddy and greenskeeper and rapidly becomes a champion who demands a much larger share of his winnings from the wealthy sponsors of his matches.

Connery (an actor as well, and the son of Sean Connery) keeps the performers honest, and a few of the father-son tussles, with their admixture of love and envy, are powerful. Most of the time, though, we’re watching a conventionally told movie about people who are anything but conventional. Grade: B (Rated PG for thematic elements, some suggestive material, language, and smoking.)        

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.