Some friends had enthused over The Flying Scotsman, so, when we couldn’t get in to see the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie, we popped round the corner to see the other movie.
It wasn’t helped by the fact that our seats were so hard that by the end we were in agony, but even that aside (and the sometimes impenetrable Scots accents) the movie is pretty much a B movie bio, and is marginal on humour, suspense, character and most other things.
Jonny Lee Miller plays Graeme O’Bree, an amateur cyclist with great ambitions, most of which he achieves. Miller isn’t a particularly good-looking actor at the best of times, and as O’Bree he achieves a sourness of face that must almost be unique amongst movie ‘heroes.’ (He might play a good Darcy in Pride and Prejudice!)
O’Bree himself appears to have been a fairly difficult character: obsessive about his cycling, depressed by past events, uncompromising, and with a determination that overrode the better judgement of some of his family and friends. Miller shows all this with a jutting out lower lip, and jaw, and haughty eyes. Admittedly O’Bree had some overcoming to do: the World Cycle crew appear to have been quite toffee-nosed in their opposition to him, and dragging himself up out of depression (and an unsuccessful suicide attempt) can’t have been easy.
But Miller lacks much warmth, and consequently you never really respond to him as a character. His wife, played by Laura Fraser, is the opposite, but she has little to do except be supportive, and has almost no time to come across as a character. Brian Cox has a quiet role as a minister who doesn’t reveal his colours until late in the piece (unfortunately my friends had spoiled this me) and is excellent in his portrayal of a man who’s had to face the same sort of distresses O’Bree is facing. Billy Boyd is Billy Boyd.
We should have waited till it came out on DVD.