Flying Scotsman (15) – A Preview

Director: Douglas Mackinnon, UK, 2006, 96 mins

Jonny Lee Miller, Laura Fraser, Brian Cox

With Jonny Lee Miller returning to the formative role of Sick Boy in Trainspointing after twenty years, it’s worth remembering what a varied and interesting CV he’s compiled in the interim. Filmed in the mid noughties, and being shown as part of the Diss Cyclathon, this delightful gem proves once again that truth is stranger than fiction, with Miller playing Graeme Obree, the fastest Scotsman on two wheels.

Obree was not only a superb athlete but a brilliant engineer, and Miller perfectly captures his stubborn, contrary obsession, tinkering away in the local vicar’s shed until he emerges with a bike made from a cannibalised washing machine. With Brian Cox playing against type as that vicar, and a reptilian cameo from Steven Berkoff, the film’s strong supporting cast elevates the movie way beyond Douglas Mackinnon’s workmanlike direction.

And while John Brown’s witty script is genuinely funny, it also touches on the darker theme of Obree’s mood swings. His determination to combat the challenges of the track will certainly resonant with cycling enthusiasts, but a far wider audience will be engaged by the abiding positive message of the fight against his crippling depression.

By David Vass

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