Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz in a scene from The Mercy.
Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz in a scene from The Mercy. Dean Rogers

MOVIE REVIEW: Twists in true story of a man out of his depth

There's an old proverb about truth being stranger than fiction, and the The Mercy is a perfect example.

In the late 1960s not everything had been done like we accept it today. Back then nobody had ever sailed a boat single-handedly around the world, and the first to do it would go down in history.

The Mercy tells the true story of Donald Crowhurst (Colin Firth), who decided to enter in 1968 the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race in the hope of being that hero.

Married to Clare (Rachel Weisz) and with his children cheering him on, the businessman with very little sailing experience enters the race and sets about constructing his boat, The Teignmouth Electron - a 41-foot trimaran sailing vessel - in the hope of winning and getting the five thousand pounds in prize money.

With setback after setback, and putting up his business and house as collateral, Crowhurst paints himself into a corner.

As he sets sails in a boat that is unfinished and leaking, he uses his inadequate experience as a sailor to navigate the globe. He knows he will be lucky to finish the voyage, but has no choice but to go.

Colin Firth in a scene from The Mercy.
Colin Firth in a scene from The Mercy. Supplied

What happened at sea on that small boat is a story that made headlines around the world.

Anyone who doesn't know the story of Crowhurst will get more out of The Mercy as the movie takes you on an emotional journey that will make you question the motives of someone who leaves his family behind to search for glory.

The Mercy is a movie in two parts. The first part is all about one family's decisions and efforts to get ready. The second part belongs solely to Firth, who faces months at sea battling against the elements and his own abilities, which he quickly realises are way behind the task at hand.

All the scenes at sea were filmed last to give extra authenticity to Firth's performance, and you feel his isolation.

Being alone on the ocean is a test that only a handful of people can truly embrace, as isolation and the elements begin to drive Crowhurst to the very edge of sanity.

Many will question Crowhurst's reasons for leaving his family behind. You feel for his wife who is torn between wanting her husband safe at home but not wanting to stand in the way of his dream.

Weisz is excellent as Clare, a woman who you feel is screaming to be heard but focusses on her place as a supportive wife and mother.

I lost count of the number of times my heart broke while watching The Mercy. While it is not your traditional tearjerker, it will keep you guessing how it will end right up to the last 10 minutes.

Rachel Weisz in a scene from the movie The Mercy.
Rachel Weisz in a scene from the movie The Mercy. Dean Rogers

Weisz and Firth are both excellent, and represent a dream pairing for two English actors who have been at the top of their game for years.

This is a fascinating story for the whole family, with a pacing and attention to detail so that nothing overshadows what is an incredible tale all on its own.

Just don't let anyone tell you what happens in the end, so you can get the most out of it.

The UK keeps producing these little cinematic gems, and this is another quality British film with an excellent cast who play characters that we all can relate to.

The Mercy is a tale that begins with honour, glory and excitement, but descends into one man's battle against the elements, loneliness and madness.

It is highly enjoyable movie that will stay with you for days afterwards.

The Mercy opens in cinemas on Thursday.



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