FILM REVIEW: The Mercy
STARRING: Colin Firth, Rachel Wiesz, David Thewlis, Ken Stott
OPENS: 8 March 2018
First things first – I LOVE Colin Firth, or Frothy as I like to call him after reading a book by his friend the hilarious Rupert Everett, because that’s what he calls him. God he’s talented. He is good in everything. I cannot recall a crap Firth performance. Even in light-weight nonsense like Love Actually and Bridget Jones he’s just wonderful. He reminds me of an old-school Hollywood star like Gregory Peck. Handsome, manly, strong and dignified but with a simmering volcanic passion just waiting to erupt. Grrrrrrrrr.
I kinda had a bad feeling about this movie (not the film – it’s excellent! I mean about the story.) My justification being if the title character had been some kind of hero surely I would have heard of him?
This is the true story of the round the world attempt by British sailor Donald Crowhurst, played BRILLIANTLY by Colin Firth. He’s happily married to the impossibly gorgeous Rachel Weisz who plays the supportive role of Clare with such steely resolve under her beautiful English rose 60’s housewife. She steals the movie for me. Every scene she’s in – she’s just mesmerising, a bit like she was in The Constant Gardener, totally different character but she just kills it.
Crowhurst is an amateur sailor who longs for more from life and finds the opportunity in a competition to sail around the world. His enthusiasm and almost desperate hopefulness can’t outweigh his obvious lack of ocean sailing experience and as his departure date gets ever closer, the audience feels the pressure of expectation that Crowhurst does, not just to compete in the race but keep his own family afloat (pardon the pun) as his quest for potential glory has consumed the family finances. David Thewlis is terrific as the publicist for Crowhurst who shares his tale of bravery and ensnares sponsors in the lead up to the race.
It’s no surprise – and the film sets this up well – that Crowhurst is in way over his head once he has been at sea for a few short weeks. Firth’s scenes on board the boat are the best of the film. Does anyone not lose their mind when they are sailing solo in treacherous oceans? It’s then he makes a monumental but life-saving decision to fake his progress whilst hiding in safe waters. I won’t spoil the film by giving away too much from this point, but it’s fair to say the villain of the piece turns out to be the media. The insatiable beast that needs to be fed and Crowhurst’s supposed feat is something they can’t get enough of, so clearly not that much has changed since the late 60’s.
Directed by James Marsh, who brought us The Theory of Everything, The Night Of and the documentary Man on a Wire it’s no wonder this is such a stylish movie. There is great attention to detail too, the costumes and 1960’s rural UK looks wonderful. Very authentic.
Here’s a tip: Don’t do what I did and Google Donald Crowhurst – you don’t need to. Just enjoy the film.