Crowhurst (2017) ****

March 26th, 2018
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Simon Rumley | Cast: Justin Salinger, Amy Loughton, Haydn May, Marcus May, Austin May, Agatha Cameron Kettle | UK | Drama | 104′

Following on from Colin Firth’s portrayal of Donald Crowhurst in The Mercy, comes Simon Rumley’s biopic drama casting Justin Salinger in the role of the lone British yachtsman who disappeared while sailing round the world in 1968.

This is the strange but true story of a wannabe hero who bottled out without leaving a message when his attempt to circumnavigate the globe hit troubled waters. His poorly prepared vessel and delayed late autumn start didn’t help matters. Marooned in the middle of nowhere he threw in the towel when the elements conspired against him. James Marsh’s The Mercy was a decent stab at the story and enjoyable enough largely due to Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz in the lead roles. But Rumley’s low budget psychological drama is by far a better film. Leaner, meaner and infinitely more moving, it cuts straight to the chase with some salient, snappily edited opening scenes that see the entire endeavour from Crowhurst’s unique point of view. Spare on dialogue, it’s a plucky prequel to the descent into doom. Salinger’s Crowhurst is a pullover-ed Walter Mitty character whose ambition far outreaches his talent. With an ailing business on his hands, his first concern is winning the money, and his ego explodes buoyed up by the prospect of being a hero – from the safety of his chintzy armchair in Teignmouth. While Firth’s Crowhurst was more internalised about the drawbacks, trying to contain his anxiety and hide it from his family; Salinger bluffs things over with a misplaced bravado that often gets the better of him in the wee small hours when he sobs into his wife’s comforting bosom.

After the stress of the preparation, the bleached out sailing sequences are the dreamlike impressionistic focus of this trip to the nightmarish depths of claustrophobic despair. Told through the intricate details of his domestic hell inside the boat: sleepless nights, tinned food, broken equipment and flooding – all this is set to a minimal ambient score of electronic beeps and echoes as the haunting loneliness of his dread and anxiety eventually leads to the epiphany moment where he morphs into maniacal Mitty mode before madness and misadventure eventually blow his mind and puncture his spirit after a solitary slap up lunch on Christmas Day. While, on dry land, his bloated agent, wife and back-up team give rousing renditions of “Jerusalem”, ” Silent Night” and “I Vow to the My Country”, Mr Mitty is having a ghostly last tango in Argentina. MT




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