The Phantom of the Open (AU - M/UK - 12A/US - PG-13) 

In a Word: (Delightfully) eccentric

Phantom of the Open

Mark Rylance plays Maurice Flitcroft with one of his twin sons as caddy in The Phantom of the Open.

This absurdist, based-on-real-life tale of one man's quest to play in the British Open Golf Championship qualifying rounds - despite having very little experience at the game - is little gem of a film that's guaranteed to leave you uplifted.

Mark Rylance plays Maurice "Mo" Flitcroft, a crane driver at a ship-building yard in the hard-scrabble north-west UK town of Barrow-in-Furness, who has to put many of his own dreams on hold as the reality of raising a family with his wife Jean (Sally Hawkins) meant work - and a steady pay cheque - had to come first.

"There are laugh-out-loud moments and some surrealist interludes (complete with Van Gogh-stylings) in the film - which is based on a 2010 sports biography, but it's the warm-hearted approach taken by director Craig Roberts and the makers of this film which make this story one well worth seeing. Sure, it's painting a rosy picture of events, but this is, at its heart, a story about someone chasing their dreams despite the massive odds stacked against them."

But faced with the possibility of being made redundant, Flitcroft starts dreaming again and, after having a revelation of sorts while watching the British Open on TV, he applies to enter 1976 contest, attracted in part by the possibility of a £10,000 prize.

Surprisingly, his entry is accepted with little checking by officials and Flitcroft sets about learning to play golf under his mantra of "practise is the road to perfection". But with little money to spare and facing opposition from the local golfers, he's only able to practice on the beach and in parks meaning that when he sets foot on the famed St Andrew's golf course in Scotland (with his twin disco-dancing sons, James and Gene - played by Christian and Jonah Lees - acting as his caddy), he's never actually played a round on a course before.

Flitcroft manages to finish the round, despite pressure from authorities - who realise he's not, in fact, a golf professional as was ticked on his application. But he records a score of 121, the worst ever recorded at the Open and one which earns him the title of "the world's worst golfer" (a title he disputes throughout). And while he's soon knocked out of the competition (and banned from future events), Flitcroft, with the support of his wife despite their mounting financial difficulties, continues to chase his dream and ends up entering the competition several times in following years, wearing various disguises to do so.

Rylance's studied performance as Flitcroft is the standout but he's well supported by the likes of Hawkins, Mark Lewis Jones as his sketchy friend Cliff, and Jake Davies as his strait-laced businessman step-son Michael. Rhys Ifans puts in a cranky show as Flitcroft's nemesis, Open official Keith Mackenzie.

There are laugh-out-loud moments and some surrealist interludes (complete with Van Gogh-stylings) in the film - which is based on a 2010 sports biography, but it's the warm-hearted approach taken by director Craig Roberts and the makers of this film which make this story one well worth seeing. Sure, it's painting a rosy picture of events, but this is, at its heart, a story about someone chasing their dreams despite the massive odds stacked against them.