Published May 03, 2007A charming ensemble cast normally relegated to supporting roles elevates and takes the lead in The Flying Scotsman, a telling of the true story of innovative cycling champion and sporadic depression dweller Graeme Obree.
Jonny Lee Miller (Trainspotting) squeezes into Obrees snug biker shorts with focused detachment, inhabiting a man driven by ambition but plagued by an oppressive, (seemingly) inexplicable shroud of depression. There is no doubt that Obree is also a man touched by genius. As an amateur cyclist accustomed to street training against his buddy in a vehicle, Obree makes it his mission to beat the one-hour world record for biking, designing and constructing a revolutionary bike out of washing machine parts and bits of scrap metal.
As is the case with many innovators, Obree meets with scepticism and resistance from the old guard, who turn to rewriting rules when the pre-existing fuzzy logic in the regulations doesnt allow enough leeway to hinder the unlikely champions progress. In his endeavours, Obree has the support of his loving wife, Anne (Laura Fraser), his best friend turned manager, Malky (Billy Boyd, or Pippin to most of you), and clergyman/confidant Douglas Baxter (Brian Cox, its harder to list movies hes not in), all of whom play their parts with the utmost humanity, refusing to allow their characters to become triumphant sports movie clichés.
In fact, the whole film is treated more as a subtle interpersonal drama than a traditional "underdog overcomes extraordinary odds type feature, which might also be what makes the slightly kid-gloving of Obrees depression all the more disappointing. There is a vague examination of some childhood bullying as the cause of his bouts of despondent despair but there isnt a deeper examination of the reasons or continuing tribulations of his condition past where the credits decide the story ends. (MGM / Sony)