A vivid insight to a vast ocean of guilt. The Mercy is one of those films that knocks you sideways, leaving you stunned and drowning somewhere in the midst of a gulf of sympathy and shock. This semi-autobiographical tale is based on the life of inventor, sailor and misguided dreamer Donald Crowhurst, superbly portrayed by Colin Firth. Without giving too much away (though some may already know the story well) Crowhurst’s foray into achieving his extravagant dreams quickly leads to disastrous consequences.
The film starts with Crowhursts’ family life in idyllic Devonshire coastal town Teignmouth and follows the excitement of a novice sailor building his dream boat and attempting to enter and win the very first around-the-world solo boat race.
Hero of his excited children, and indeed his whole neighbourhood, he is quickly caught up in press coverage and sponsorship deals to fund the voyage, but hits the point of no return when he realises his goals are too high and the money in too short a supply. In the quest for the money needed to get his boat finished in time to join the race, he signs over the deeds to his home and business, everything he owns.
Despite set backs and the minimally completed state of his boat, he is swept away by his pride and his desire to protect his family. He sets off, and we fall into the epic frame by frame depiction of a man’s spiral of despair; the guilt of dishonesty, complete loneliness, regret and his encroaching insanity, all set against the backdrop of a vast and isolated ocean.
This film is amazing, the cinematography is first class, to the point I was nearly sea sick watching some of the scenes. The subtleties of emotion shown by Firth and Rachel Weisz (as Crowhusrt’s wife) make you believe you are listening to the biography in person.
I would recommend seeing it, however be prepared to be taken through the full depth and emotional range of a man’s deteriorating psyche and the heartache felt by those left behind on the shores of Home.