The Mercy Film Review: A Tragic Real Adventurous Story

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The Mercy Cast & Crew:

Director: James Marsh
Cast: Colin Firth, David Thewlis, Rachel Weisz, Mark Gatiss, Ken Stott and Finn Elliot.
Screenwriter: Scott Z. Burns
Producers: Scott Z. Burns, Peter Czernin, and Graham Broadbent etc.
Production Company: BBC Films, Studiocanal and Blueprint Pictures
Composer: Johann Johannsson
Editor: Jinx Godfrey, Joan Sobel.
Cinematographer: Eric Gautier.


The Mercy, an upcoming biographical drama is written by Scott Z. Burns and is directed by James Marsh. It is highly based on the true story of Donald Crowhurst, an amateur sailor who disastrously attempts to complete his Golden Globe Race by Sunday Times back in 1968 and after failing it, how he would try to subsequently cover the failure. The film has impeccable cast as mentioned above including Colin Firth, David Thewlis, Ken Stott etc. The principal photography of the film has been started in 2015.

The Mercy Production:

The project was initially announced by The Daily Mail back in 2013 when they said that they’re making a biopic of Donald Crowhurst, the yacht-racer. He gave confusing reports of his position in the Golden Globe Race which said that he had sailed the world when he just remained in the Atlantic ocean. The screenplay of this picture is written by Scott Z. Burns and Colin Firth was initially reported to play Crowhurst with Kate Winslet being his wife. In 2015, the film was announced to be directed by the infamous James Marsh under the collaborative production of BBC Films, StudioCanal and Blueprint Pictures. All of these production houses are financing for the film, which should have been developed by some other. The international sales are handled by StudioCanal along with the distribution in UK, Europe, Germany, France and as well as Australia. Later, Rachel Weisz was confirmed to play the wife of Donald Crowhurst, Clare along with other cast joining the sets. After the theory of everything, this is the second time David Thewlis joined James Marsh.

The Mercy Summary:

Coming to the plot of the movie, it details out the incredible and mysterious story of Donald Crowhurst, who is an amateur sailor that completes the Golden Globe Race of Sunday Times, back in 1968 hoping to become the first person to circumnavigate single-handedly around the world without a stop. With his business, his house, and an unfinished boat in the line; Donald leaves his wife and children behind and starts to embark his adventure on Teignmouth Electron, his boat. The story of his solo and dangerous voyage and his struggles as he confronts the epic journey with his family desperately waiting for his return together gives you the enduring mystery you have watched in recent times.

The Mercy Background:

If you have to define ‘The Mercy’ as a film, it is a periodic bio-drama which deals with the doomed voyage of a fraudster yachtsman Donald Crowhurst. The movie comes with the illustrious British landscapes, locations and water bodies as well. The director James Marsh who has been credited for ‘The Theory of Everything’, Stephen Hawking’s biopic and the Oscar-winning ‘Man of Wire’ documentary dealt with the movie in a very careful way. He had Rachel Weisz and Colin Firth listing in the top cast. This unsolved mystery, when turned into an audio-visual, has been a bit flat but still highly functional with odd elements spread all over.

The movie is nothing but a diluted traffic with a plate full of unanswered things and therefore is actually turned into an anodyne. Initially, it has been opened in U.K and is now hitting the Irish screens and will soon have a global rollout staggering out to follow. With the evergreen themes, the drama, the financial desperation, the great ambition, the basic folly; this biopic has inspired many novels, documentaries, stage plays, novels, operas and now is finally a film with the big screen treatment done amusingly. Simon Rumley is also making an indie thriller named as Crowhurst which is yet to come in months. The Mercy can actually be termed as a bold move by the producers who not only produced this movie but also got the rights for Rumley’s film on agreeing to release it soon after the big budgeted rival which is going to playing in the theatres soon.

The Mercy Review:

Back in 1968, Sunday Times; Britain’s newspaper has launched the Golden Globe Race for the sailors with the biggest cash prize of £5000 each. The fastest sailor who does a non-stop voyage around the world will be awarded this cash prize. Donald Crowhurst, an amateur sailor who had mounting debts along with his four children signs up for the race in order to reverse his bad luck and promote the venture which is an electronic navigation device. Striking the funding deal at high stakes with Stanley Best, the businessman; he goes to work to prepare a yacht and names it as Teignmouth Electron. Despite the speculations that raise in the last minute, the reservations of Clair, his wife and the technical issues with the boat he has made; Crowhurst sets on the voyage in October but his plans start unraveling making him fall far in the competition. With the increasing desperation and without any hope to win, he decides to abandon the race and starts lingering around South American coast filing fake logs and charting his fake progress. He makes a landfall which breaks the rules in Argentina and then takes a detour. All of these elements are beautifully picturized by Marsh in this heavy drama.

By 1969 July, after spending whole eight months in solitude and facing financial ruin, he returns to Britain where Crowhurst suffers a mental breakdown. He starts writing delusional, flooring and religious precepts in his journals and titles it as ‘The Mercy’. He disappears on the high seas and people consider it as a suicide presented in a symbolic way given his unmanned yacht. Later, the yacht was found adrift in the Atlantic ocean but his fate stays unsolved for almost half a century. Confronted with flashbacks between him and his family, the movie primarily frames the personal tragedy of a desperate sailor on one level and a conventional drama with not greater yields on another level. This is almost like retelling all the strange events that happened in his life while exploring the political, psychological and as well social dimensions to his failed mission.

The director should be given credit for moving the story with a breezy pace as he milks the eerie effect from the oddness and the sense wrapping mood when Crowhurst is alone on the cast ocean accompanied by the soundtrack of cracks, creeks and slapping waves as well. Embedded with few horror and thriller undertones, ‘The Mercy’ shows the descent of Crowhurst from satiating hunger into hallucinatory madness in relative with poetic and restrained terms. These two contrast in style, tone and towards the end, struggles to resolve the dilemma with a touch of inherent drama about a man going insane in a cabin of a sailing boat. Talking about performances, Colin Firth has been reliably solid but at times lacks the emotional intensity that the film demands. However, he manages to reinforce the mood flatness and the tragedy in his own style. David Thewlis brings the comic frenzy into the movie by being Crowhurst’s press agent and Weisz on the other hand, her acting skills are not so well used where she only got a couple of scenes under her sleeve where she is shown as a dutiful passive wife.

The Mercy is a movie which makes Crowhurst a hero instead of the fraudster he is by laying the blame of his death on his business partners, the media vultures and the sensation business instead of his own hopeless adventurism. “Last week, you were here selling all the hope and now you sell the blame”, squirts his wife Clare when the reporters start talking about the tragedy explaining the movie line. This simplistic plot, however, encapsulates the main element of the film but however lacks the moral clarity with an unfathomable blur standing in front of the audience. On a whole, this movie is one of those dramas that you should probably watch given you’re a fan of flat drama with emotional dissonance and a lot of conversations between the characters and the person himself. You will not be entirely disappointed, but you will not either be thrilled as well with the way it progresses towards the end.

At sea, Colin Firth managed to single-handedly pull the film off. The actor does some kind of repressed chumps which no one else could have done. Here, he is not only raggedy minded but also repressed about things going in his life. After spending condensed weeks at the sea, Crowhurst stays alone for almost seven and half months and this man who is a blend of Robinson Crusoe and Ben Gunn. His cracked voice which fakes optimism on phone and his despair pouring into the recording machines is something you shouldn’t miss in this almost 3.5 starrer film as it takes you on an emotional ride.





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