the mercy

★★★

Director: James marsh (the theory of everything, shadow dancer, the king)

Starring: colin firth, rachel weisz, david thewlis, and ken stott.

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

Yachtsman Donald Crowhurst creates an outrageous account of his disastrous attempt to win the 1968 Golden Globe Race.

I have a confession. Films that ultimately end in disaster aren't my favourite kind of films.

 

Now I understand that life isn't always perfect, wrapped up in a bow with a cherry on top, but when it comes to telling tales that end badly I think it takes real craft and skill to land the ending well. Most films that don't end happily ever after go for the sappy ending. "Well, in spite of it all they really were terrific people" they try and spin. It seems incredibly demeaning and takes away the pain, agony, and suffering we've seen characters go through for a couple of hours. It just feels hollow. 

 

But thankfully The Mercy doesn't fall into that trap at all.  Anchored by another stunning performance from Colin Firth it faces loss, shame, and pressure head on without an ounce of sap in sight. 

 

Donald Crowhurst is a dreamer. He dreams that one day he will accomplish something magnificent and when the Golden Globe race, a sailing race around the world, is announced he decides to enter. Little more than a weekend sailor and with boat problems from the start Crowhurst must choose between two horrific scenarios: turn back to face certain financial ruin and become a laughing stock or head onwards to certain death.

Sometimes with true stories they feel kind of fantastical because they are stories of great people doing daring deeds, things that we mere mortals would/could never do. So Crowhurst's story rings truer still as he dreams big but ultimately falls short. He's not painted as some hallowed saint but as a man who was cherished by his family who failed, pressured by the media and sponsors alike to finish or be ruined. 

 

Colin Firth is remarkable, wonderfully capturing both the family man and the sailor who slowly descends into madness. Rachel Weisz although sidelined as the woman left at home still excels in limited screen and story time. 

Anchored by another stunning performance from Colin Firth, The Mercy faces loss, shame and pressure head on without an ounce of sap in sight. 

★★★

The Mercy is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital from all good disc and digital retailers. 

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