Posted Feb 10 2018

The Mercy - This Boat Movie Pretty Much Rocks

Dir: James Marsh

Starring Colin Firth, Rachel Weisz, David Thewlis, Mark Gatiss, Andrew Buchan. Ken Stott

Colin Firth gives one of his strongest performances in this engaging true-life drama, even if Marsh’s film as a whole proves ultimately a touch disappointing. Firth is Donald Crowhurst, a sometime (and somewhat unsuccessful) nautical inventor, who, in 1968, took up the Sunday Times’ challenge to sail around the world single-handed. As Crowhurst’s dream slowly becomes a reality, for his wife Clare (an underused Weisz), the logistics of dealing with her husband’s combination of whimsy and determination to prove himself, becomes an increasing burden as she struggles to maintain the home life of her children. Once Donald sets sail, and starts reporting back to the world, events take another turn as his failings are misreported and the world awaits his impending great achievement.

For those that know this well documented story, those achievements were never to come to fruition. But this is not a tale dependent on its ending, but one of the journey. And one that is in that light dependent on Firth, who has never been as compelling, dark or oddly charismatic as he is here. There is a certain damage he brings to Donald, but one he keeps as supressed as he can, soldiering on, in part out of obligation and, to an increasingly degree, out of delusion. And then to a realisation that borders on tragic for all concerned.

Marsh directs with flair, strong on relationships, good at helping Firth express his inner turmoil, but ultimately, only really scratching the surface, opting to never fully explore the depths of such despair that are hinted at.

In a strong and able supporting cast, Thewlis appears to be thoroughly enjoying himself as Donald’s promoter, whilst Weisz, as good as she always is, could do with a good deal more to do than talk to the press and make the sandwiches.


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