The Flying Scotsman (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner27/06/2007

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 96 mins

Engaging, impressively directed and superbly acted drama that succeeds as both an inspirational sports flick and a darkly observed study of mental illness.

What's it all about?
The Flying Scotsman is based on the remarkable true story of Scottish cycling legend Graeme Obree (Johnny Lee Miller), who smashed the world one hour cycling record on a home-made bicycle that he constructed using old washing machine parts. However, in addition to the feelgood, triumph-over-adversity sporting drama, the film also examines Graeme's lifelong battle with depression, due to bipolar disorder.

The Good
Johnny Lee Miller gives his best performance to date as Obree, although, admittedly that's only really saying that he's better as Obree in this than he was as Sick Boy in Trainspotting. At any rate, there's a compelling intensity to his performance here and director Douglas McKinnon really knows how to exploit Miller's pale, haunted features to best effect.

There's also strong support from a cast of likeable actors that includes Billy Boyd (back in comedy hobbit mode as Obree's best friend), Brian Cox (typecast as a mentor figure again but doing a splendid job of it nonetheless), Steven Berkhoff (as an eminently hissable villain, a racing official who seems to have it in for Obree) and the lovely Laura Fraser (as Graeme's long-suffering wife, Anne).

The Great
The film looks terrific, with brightly coloured photography throughout and a lot of superb location work. In addition, the excellent script is careful to balance the film's darker moments with a lot of humour.

Crucially, the cycling scenes work really well. They're excitingly filmed (the Steadicam work is excellent) and they capture the roar of the velodrome. Obree himself even doubles for Miller in some of the film's more lycra-clad moments.

Worth seeing?
In short, The Flying Scotsman is a superbly acted, emotionally engaging and ultimately uplifting drama that tells a fascinating true story. Recommended.

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Content updated: 15/12/2017 08:25

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