Wednesday, June 27, 2007

THE FLYING SCOTSMAN leaves it too late to move beyond the genre

THE FLYING SCOTSMAN spends its first hour solidly within the conventions of the under-dog sports movie. It's everything DODGEBALL spoofed so well. We meet Graeme Obree as a little kid being bullied at school. His dad (a rozzer - unfortunate) gives him a bike for Christmas and soon he's speeding away from the bullies and into the record books. We next meet him as a grown man, played by Jonny Lee Miller with a weak Scottish accent. He's down on his luck in Glasgow. But with the help of a Loving Wife, a Chirpy Side-kick (Billy Boyd) and a Wise Mentor (Brian Cox), he soon finds himself breaking the world record on his unconventional "make do and mend" bike. So far so boring. Indeed, the caricature of the evil German World Cycling Federation bureaucrat villain (Steven Berkoff) is insulting.

Luckily the movie picks up in the final chapters. There is an attempt to investigate Obree's depression; the visual representation of his cycle rides is interesting and I like the shadowy final scene. Is this enough to offset the earlier tedium? I'm not sure, but at least you leave the cinema feeling engaged and exhilerated.

THE FLYING SCOTSMAN was released in New Zealand, the US, Italy and Singapore earlier this year. It is currently on release in the UK. It opens in Germany on July 5th and in Australia on August 9th 2007.

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