The Mercy

The Mercy
The Mercy
Directed by James Marsh
Starring Colin Firth, Rachel Weisz, David Thewlis, Genevieve Gaunt, Sebastian Armesto and Jonathan Bailey
In UK Cinemas February 9th, 2018

by Joanna Orland

No stranger to biopics, director James Marsh (The Theory of Everything) takes on the story of Donald Crowhurst; the yachtsman who notoriously faked his final voyage. While Colin Firth gives a compassionate performance, the story itself feels overly restrained and polite towards the sailor’s legacy. Potentially afraid to offend the Crowhurst family, Marsh treads water in The Mercy, not giving any insight into the mind or character of Donald, or what truly happened on his fateful journey.

Lots of ambition and technical skill is not enough to lift this film. Crowhurst’s story has already been told in other forms, with a documentary on the subject inpsiring the making of The Mercy. For those unaware of Crowhurst, he entered an around-the-world boat race, signing up to a high-stakes funding deal, putting his and his family’s livelihood on the line. His plans to complete the race immediately unravelled as he fell far behind. Increasingly despearate, he abandoned the competition and faked his journey through fraudulent logs charting his fictional progress. After about 8 months of solitude and facing financial ruin upon his return, Crowhurst disappeared, presumed to have committed suicide, or possibly having fallen overboard. The film draws no conclusions on the matter. His unmanned yacht was found intact in the Atlantic shortly thereafter.

While the film is a well-made period drama, tackling the difficulties of filming much of the story on water, the emotional impact of the film feels flat. Unanswered questions about Crowhurst’s motives and disappearance remain a mystery as the director refuses to make any bold choices, merely portraying lots of vague possibilities of what could have been going through Donald’s mind.

A performance showcase for Colin Firth, The Mercy offers little else in the way of enjoyment or purpose.


Leave a Reply