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Flying Scotsman, The


Stars: Jonny Lee Miller, Laura Fraser, Brian Cox, Billy Boyd, Steven Berkoff

Director: Douglas Mackinnon

Surprisingly entertaining and heartwarming for a film about a cyclist, this well-written piece really gets under the skin of the ups and downs of Scottish bike rider Graeme Obree (Miller). Obree, who built his own racing cycle from bits and pieces of other bikes and stuff - including a washing machine - smashed
records on it, and won world championships at pursuit cycling in 1993 and 1995.

The film opens, however, with Obree's botched suicide attempt, when he takes his beloved two-wheeler into the woods and tries to hang himself. For Obree was not only a champion, but also a manic depressive. And he fell foul of a disapproving authority who at times stopped at nothing to prevent him competing, re-writing the rule books to ban his racing stance and the bike itself.

Miller works tirelessly as the hag-ridden cyclist, but Boyd, as his manager and long-time pal, and Fraser as his upbeat wife, are just as good, and contribute much to the warmth of character that leaves a lump in the throat at the end. Obree's career itself is skilfully compressed by the script, without omitting most of the triumphs and disasters that befell him along the way.

One quibble: the races are not easy to follow in relation to who is beating whom.

David Quinlan

Scotland/Germany 2006. UK Distributor: Verve Pictures (MGM). Fujicolor.
104 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 23 Jun 2007