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The Mercy (12A)

John Woods takes a look at this Brit flick telling the true story of a 1960s amateur sailor who follows his dreams ...

Director James Marsh
Starring Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz
Studio Canal/BBC Films
101 minutes

This is a fascinatingly typical, yet untypical British underdog movie. Based on a true story form the late Sixties, Donald Crowhurst, inventor, businessman, and amateur sailor competes against the likes of Robin Knox-Johnson in a round the world race.

The first half of the film depicts Crowhurst, brilliantly played by Colin Firth, as the ever optimistic but hapless entrepreneur who does not quite make it. The film portrays a family man with a great relationship with his wife (played by Rachel Weisz), and his children. Through a combination of financial support from a local businessman, and the promotional skills of a local journalist, Crowhurst is enabled to build a trimaran and enter the race.

Delays in building the boat lead to Crowhurst putting both his home and business at risk if he fails to take one of the two available prizes. He finally sails on the last permissible day but it is in a vessel that is not fully prepared for the high seas.

The naively optimistic attempt is soon exposed by the wild Atlantic. I don’t want to be a plot spoiler but suffice it to say it does not all turn out well.

Christians will be interested to see what a powerful force fantasising can play in our lives. Dreams can turn into reality, they can also unravel into nightmares, a web of deception, and the fog of delusion. This film shows how a series of poor choices can lead people to the brink of desperation.

Recently, Simon Crowhurst, the sailor’s son asks what the film tells him about the meaning of life. “That many questions are still open. On the face of it, we’re a chemical disruption on the surface of a small rock in an obscure part of the galaxy. But, in a way, the profundity of human suffering makes you think: is that all it is?”

The Mercy is a reminder that there are no easy answers to the question: “Why is this happening to me?”

John Woods is pastor of Lancing Tabernacle in West Sussex

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