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Mercy, The


Stars: Colin Firth, Rachel Weisz, David Thewlis, Mark Gatiss, Ken Stott, Anna Madely, Finn Elliot

Director: James Marsh

The mystery of would-be voyager-around-the-world Donald Crowhurst grabbed headlines across the globe, but this re-telling of one man's unequal battle against himself and the elements is, although reasonably well paced, also desiccated and bloodless, especially by comparison with Robert Redford's All is Lost. It's a fascinating true story in many ways, that, unfortunately, doesn't make for gripping drama.

Firth and Weisz do decent jobs as Crowhurst and his wife, while Thewlis repeats his slow-drawling, scene-grabbing wheeler-dealer from the last series of TV's Fargo.

Having a trimaran built to his own specifications, Crowhurst suffers the frustration of repeated delays in its construction to his demands, making the voyage more hazardous thanks to the time of year. Spare parts were also accidentally left ashore.

On his much-trumpeted departure, Crowhurst finds himself hailed a hero but, ill-prepared and ill-equipped, he suffers a rough Atlantic crossing, and with little experience of open water sailing, is soon miles of course. In all kinds of difficulties, he is forced to beach in Argentina.

Returning to the boat, Crowhurst heads back across the Atlantic, intending to finish last to avoid having his logbooks examined (a rather forlorn hope you might think, but one which reflects his deteriorating state of mind). Alas, other competitors, falling by the wayside, soon put his new plans in jeopardy...

The film conveys only a modicum of the despair involved, although Firth bears a passing resemblance to the real thing and should be praised for tackling a role outside his usual parameters. The 'Mercy' incidentally, is not the name of the boat, but is explained in the final scenes of this disappointing film.

David Quinlan

UK 2017. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Colour (unspecified).
101 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 05 Feb 2018