Based on a true story; in 1913 at the US open golf tournament, 20 year-old golfing nobody Francis Ouimet (LaBeouf) took on world champion Harry Vardon (Dillane), and learned a few things along the way...
There are two ways of looking at Bill Paxton’s sophomore stint in the director’s chair, a rose-tinted account of how, at the 1913 US Open, 20 year-old American caddy Francis Ouimet (Shia LaBeouf) confronted legendary English champ Harry Vardon (Stephen Dillane). On the one hand, it can be seen as another overtly sentimental foray into Bagger Vance territory that recruits into the service of heart-warming uplift one of the dullest pastimes ever devised.
On the other, it can be seen for what it is: a well-crafted entertainment that boasts excellent performances (particularly from Dillane) and fully engages the mythology of sport, reminding us that in its transcendent moments, even a tossy one like golf has the power to capture the collective imagination. In its depiction of Ouimet and Vardon’s stoic defiance of pernicious class prejudice, it unsqueamishly celebrates the field of play as a battleground on which many of history’s symbolic victories have been won.
Sentimental? Certainly. Heart-warming and uplifting? Absolutely. A persuasive argument to take golf seriously? Not a chance.