Film: The Flying Scotsman

Just came back from seeing a preview with the family. We all enjoyed it. There are some great comic moments as well as the feelgood drama of an athlete on the fringe making his mark without the backing of a strong club or elite sponsorship. The photography of the actual cycling is highly engrossing, a real triumph of cinematography.

For those who aren’t already familiar with the story of cyclist Graeme Obree, I suspect that the film is more satisfying when you’re wondering just when he’s going to win and when he’s going to lose his battles on the track and against clinical depression. I only vaguely remembered his name, so I was wondering right up until the end, and I really cared. If you don’t already know, try and resist the temptation to find his story online – just let the narrative flow over you in the film.

The film opens with a very dark scene, and then backs right away from it to tell what appears to be just another underdog story. It almost appears after a while that we might have imagined that scene – how can we get there from here? Have faith – that dark scene is returned to and we end up understanding a great deal from it about Obree’s drives and demons.

Johnny Lee Miller is riveting, truly. Billy Boyd and Laura Fraser as Obree’s manager and spouse respectively provide a nice balance to Obree’s stubborn intensity, Morven Christie is a delightful support as a family friend and romantic interest for Boyd, and Brian Cox as a mentor figure is solid as a trustworthy and comforting rock. Other eccentric Scots characters pop up for light relief and occasional dark menace but the script uses this tactic sparingly and avoids falling into obvious sentimentality.

Highly recommended.

Categories: arts & entertainment

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2 replies

  1. Hi there,
    Just came across your comments about my film. Much appreciated, I’m glad you liked it!
    Douglas Mackinnon
    Director The Flying Scotsman

  2. Hey, nice to see you drop by, Douglas. Looking forward to your next film project, definitely!

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