Title: The Mercy (2018)
Director: James Marsh (Man on Wire)
Cast: Colin Firth, Rachel Weisz, David Thewlis, Mark Gatiss, Simon McBurney
Plot: The true story of amateur English sailor Donald Crowhurst (Firth) who entered the 1968 Times Golden Globe boating race to become one of the first and quickest sailors to circumnavigate the globe.
“Alone on a boat for nine months? You’re either drunk or mad”
Review by Eddie on 31/01/2019
Making a name for himself with brilliant documentary Man on Wire in 2008, filmmaker James Marsh has in the year’s following struggled to get back to the highs of his Oscar winning feature (some would beg to differ with The Theory of Everything) with forgettable films such as Shadow Dancer and the largely forgotten about Project Nim littering his CV, which is why The Mercy is such a pleasant surprise.
While threatening to but never completely sailing to grand heights, Marsh’s examination of the true story of amateur British sailor Donald Crowhurst and his quest to circumnavigate the ocean during the famous Times Golden Globe boat race in 1968 is a well-crafted and acted tale that sees Marsh on the best form of his career outside of Wire’s release.
Filled with an almost unbearable foreshadowing of bad times and poor decisions, Marsh captures both the commendable sense of the will to accomplish something that drove Crowhurst to life changing decisions such as banking on his family home to finish the race through to the dread and terror that one can expect when traversing the wilds of the ocean alone on a yacht for near on one whole year.
It’s an impressively crafted film and one that’s anchored by a committed and physically embodied Colin Firth as the increasingly unhinged and mentally tormented Crowhurst.
In what acts as a nice escape for Firth from roles where he is more the dashing rougue rather than the downtrodden everyday blue collar sap, Firth is hugely impressive as Crowhurst, a man whose decisions we can’t exactly condone but a man whose demise is still heartbreakingly real, raw and quietly haunting.
With Firth and Marsh both on fine form, its a shame The Mercy finds itself petering out towards its latter stages as the film gets bogged down covering similar ground while a drawn out finale starts to feel to agenda based and cinematically sappy, in turn zapping The Mercy from its solid and often captivating early work.
Final Say –
A strong, well-filmed drama that’s a nice return to form for Marsh and a solid change of pace for Firth, The Mercy may not be a must-see but if a true life drama is what you are seeking, The Mercy has you covered.
3 1/2 home-made boats out of 5