The Flying Scotsman

Director: Douglas Mackinnon

If it weren’t based on truth, the story of a bipolar Scottish cyclist who creates his own bike with scrap metal and parts from his wife’s washing machine would be nearly impossible to believe. In director Douglas Mackinnon’s moving film which manages to delight in the same way that World’s Fastest Indian did, Jonny Lee Miller (a talented actor and oft-referenced first husband of Angelina Jolie) turns in a remarkable performance as Graeme Obree. In flashbacks to his youth as a bullied student made the target of cruel beatings by classmates because his father was a policeman, we see the young Graeme’s face brighten with the Christmas gift of a bicycle from his parents which helps aid in his escape from trouble. As a married father, Graeme struggles with a failing cycle shop that closes, thus leaving him unemployed save for sporadic jobs as a bike courier, until he finally decides to take his unique riding style, manic energy and determination to train for Norway despite the bipolar disorder he struggles with privately. With the aid of some trusted loved ones including his loyal wife Anne (Laura Fraser), best friend and manager Malky (Billy Boyd) and new friend Douglas Baxter (Brian Cox reminding viewers once again that he’s a master character actor), Graeme manages to set world records only to have the prejudice of the World Cycling Federation hinder his progress in their shady quest to change rules to try and prevent the Scotsman from not only succeeding but riding altogether. Nominated for five BAFTA Scotland Awards in all of the major categories, this winning export from the UK has sneaked onto the new release DVD shelves here in the states where I can only hope it will gain a greater audience from a country that definitely appreciates underdog sports tales.