Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
Cast: Colin Forth, Rachel Weisz, David Thewlis, Mark Gatiss, Andrew Buchan, Finn Elliot, Jonathan Bailey, Ken Stott, Adrian Schiller, Sam Hoare, Kit Conner, Eleanor Stagg, Simon McBurney.
There is a fine line between the hopeless romantic adventurer and the lie told in which to preserve the memory of what you set out to achieve; it is a line so thin that you cannot but help pity and remorse for those left behind to pick up the pieces of the notion and want of derring-do and you cannot help but feel the blur of admiration that strikes home, the sense of forlorn hope that cannot but be helped be seen as glorious failure and which makes the most interesting of stories.
It is the epitome of such failure that sees The Mercy tear at the reason between these two states of emotion; the contempt some might profess at Donald Crowhurst’s betrayal and subterfuge in his attempt to circumnavigate the globe, and the desire to see the underdog succeed, to cheer on the ingenuity of the human spirit, to witness endeavour and wide eyed optimism. It is in this dichotomy that the film falls neatly in and whatever side you end up on there is something decidedly superb about Donald Crowhurst, something that even the fear of failure he felt in the Atlantic ocean as he realised he was not going to make his family’s name and business be seen as a 1960s achievement story.
Regardless of the truth, what must be considered is the fact that as an amateur sailor, the weekend warrior of the softer water ways of the South West shoreline, he still managed to navigate his way to Argentina, a feat for one man to surely be lauded. After all it should be noted, that despite our own romantic notions of heroism and adventure, how many of us would truly put our lives on the line, how many of really want to live and see beyond the horizon.
For Colin Firth this is a triumph of a film, to portray the madness and drive of one man’s pursuit is quite one thing, to etch it upon ones face and let the emotions be shown in such a way that it acts as both a guide of passion and a warning of hubris is to applaud the actor’s unnerving ability to portray the stiff upper lip whilst knowing that the fall from grace is going to be devastating, unrelenting and systematic of the need to be more than we can be sometimes allowed to be thought of by society.
A magnificent film, The Mercy is a story that many will be aware of but which suits cinema in more ways than the sometimes overbearing and insufferable over hyped Hollywood blockbuster. A film that captures the majesty and drama of the human spirit at its most volatile, a film that hits you in waves of grief and pride, The Mercy is an assured presence this winter.
Ian D. Hall