The Mercy




The true story of Donald Crowhurst, a dreamer and adventurer who decides to sail around the world - non-stop and single-handed.


Mercy, The

Colin Firth


Just as former MP John Stonehouse is forever remembered for the sole fact that he tried to fake his own death, so too is the name of amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst recalled by a single event in his life, namely his failed efforts to win the first Sunday Times Golden Globe round the world yacht race in 1968. Although Stonehouse had reached the dizzy heights of being Postmaster General in Harold Wilson’s government, Crowhurst was a relative nobody, a failing businessman specialising in boating equipment.


As his firm began to sink, he thought of a way to make some money. However, he was ill-equipped in every respect: his boat, the Teignmouth Electron, was not in good shape for a global trip, and he was not experienced enough to overcome these shortcomings. In the event he turned to cheating by falsifying his positions and then abandoning his ship. Nobody will ever know if he felt he couldn’t return to the UK and face the inevitable humiliation. Anyway, he vanished and eight months later his boat was discovered in the Atlantic, minus Crowhurst, presumed dead. Did he jump ship on purpose or fall overboard accidentally? We will never know. 


James Marsh’s film is a fairly worthy retelling of the story but it goes only so far and rarely captures the feeling of true desperation that Crowhurst must have felt. Perhaps Colin Firth just isn’t ordinary enough to embody the lone sailor’s obsession with success while all the time floundering in failure. As Crowhurst’s wife Rachel Weisz gives a decent performance, while David Thewlis as his press agent and Ken Stott as his sponsor provide interesting insights into the people who were longing to see their friend succeed. At the heart of the film, however, lies the unfathomable enigma that remains Donald Crowhurst.




Cast: Colin Firth, Rachel Weisz, David Thewlis, Ken Stott, Simon McBurney, Mark Gatiss, Jonathan Bailey, Andrew Buchan, Finn Elliot, Kit Connor, Eleanor Stagg, Anna Madeley, Adrian Schiller, Sebastian Armesto, Sam Hoare, Simon Chandler, Genevieve Gaunt, Dorothy Atkinson, Greg Hicks.


Dir James Marsh, Pro Graham Broadbent, Scott Z. Burns, Peter Czernin, Nicolas Mauvernay and Jacques Perrin, Screenplay Scott Z. Burns, Ph Éric Gautier, Pro Des Peter Francis and Jon Henson, Ed Jinx Godfrey, Music Jóhann Jóhannsson, Costumes Hannah Walter.


Blueprint Pictures/BBC Films-StudioCanal.

102 mins. UK. 2018. Rel: 9 February 2018. Cert. 12A.