Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Germany/United Kingdom, 2006. ContentFilm International, Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Scion Films, Scottish Screen, Zero Film GmbH, Zero West Filmproduktion. Screenplay by John Brown, Simon Rose, Declan Hughes. Cinematography by Gavin Finney. Produced by Peter Broughan, Claire Chapman, Sara Giles, Peter Gallagher. Music by Martin Phipps. Production Design by Mike Gunn. Costume Design by Alexandra Caulfield. Film Editing by Colin Monie.
The last thing the world needed was another inspirational sports movie, but move over and make space for this one, it’s really charming. Jonny Lee Miller is terrific as Graeme Obree, a Scottish bike courier who spent his younger days in competitive bicycle races before the realities of life got in the way and forced him to earn a living. After a flash of inspiration hits him during a pleasure ride, he comes up with a modified design for his bike that he insists will win him the new world record for fastest 60-minute ride, a record he eventually sets, loses and then sets again. He goes on to a successful career with sponsors and fame, aided generously by his best friend and manager (Billy Boyd) and lovely wife (Laura Fraser, who is wonderful), but with his fair share of setbacks as well. The head honchos of Europe’s cycling organizations worry about the economic effect of his home grown technology to their corporate profits, while Obree’s own battle with clinical depression and childhood demons threatens to take him out of the game completely. It’s a film that never pretends to be anything it isn’t, told with utter sincerity and, at a zippy 90 minutes, with very welcome efficiency.