FLYING SCOTSMAN, THE
Scottish cyclist Graeme Obree (Jonny Lee Miller), is working as a bicycle courier in Glasgow, and has been a keen competitive amateur cyclist since his childhood days, when he used his first bike as a means of escape from school bullies. Inspired to build his own revolutionary bike, with bits and pieces, including the ball bearings from the home washing machine, he defies the odds and breaks the World One Hour record. With the support of his wife Annie (Laura Fraser), his friend & manager Malky (Billy Boyd) and the local pastor, Baxter (Brian Cox), Graeme sets his sights on more world records, but faces the hurdles thrown in front of him by mean spirited members of the World Cycling Federation who see him as an upstart. His depression also takes its toll on him as he battles for self control and self esteem.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Competently made and reasonably interesting, but The Flying Scotsman lacks the kind of exhilaration that inspirational true-life sport films generally need to carry them to cinematic gold. Part of the reason, I suspect, is inherent in the topic: most of Graeme Obree's cycling success is against the clock, which denies audiences the thrill of a race in which we can see contestants fighting neck and neck. This built-in disadvantage robs the film of some of its potential for adrenaline rushing. Obree's depression, never satisfactorily explained, is another element that dectracts.
On the positive side, though, the performances are excellent, with Jonny Lee Miller creating a believable Obree, complete with his inner demons - his condition is always threatening to engulf him. Laura Fraser is lovely as his supportive wife (if a little under written) and Billy Boyd makes a likeable coach/buddy, who can get as frustrated with his charge as elated. Brian Cox is a solid and gentle pastor - and avoids the clichés - who offers Obree a sympathetic ear and moral support.
Douglas Mackinnon starts the film with a flash forward, setting us up for a downer ending - which is a red herring, and I wonder what was the motive for that decision. But fans of Obree will know the real ending, so perhaps it's for them. Indeed, they are the ones most likely to find this respectful biopic engrossing.
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FLYING SCOTSMAN, THE (M)
CAST: Jonny Lee Miller, Sean Brown, Laura Fraser, Billy Boyd, Morven Christie, Brian Cox, Billy Boyd
PRODUCER: Peter Broughan, Peter Gallagher, Sara Giles, Damita Nikapota
DIRECTOR: Douglas Mackinnon
SCRIPT: John Brown, Declan Hughes, Simon Rose
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Gavin Finney
EDITOR: Colin Monie
MUSIC: Martin Phipps
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mike Gunn
RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Rialto
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 16, 2007