his film is quintessentially British. It stars most people’s favourite Darcy, Colin Firth, and the humongous talent of Rachel Weisz in a biopic of Donald Crowhurst.
Family man Crowhurst is best described as a weekend sailor. He loves boats and being an engineer and he is enthralled by the mechanics of it all. Whilst at another boat show, Sir Frances Chichester announces a race of a lifetime, The Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, the first around the world yacht race. With £5000 prize money for the fastest single-handed circumnavigation, a trophy for the first one to return home and no entry requirement, Crowhurst decides to defy all odds and become the poster boy for underdogs everywhere. Although the cards are stacked against him, it is his sheer determination and perseverance that keeps you rooting for him.
Crowhurst designs his boat with precision and meticulous thought, but with money being an issue and the competition deadline date sailing away from him, it looks like everything is in vain. The final push is when he puts everything on the line and if he doesn’t win he risks his home and the future of his family. The first act of preparation is intercepted with beautiful family scenes that could be compared to those stock photos that come with the picture frame.
With no time to spare, Crowhurst is on the water. The boat of his dreams may be completed but the reality is it isn’t up to standard. And in the film's second half Firth truly shines.
When he realises he's shamefully behind the competition, and the only thing he’ll win is the ultimate demise of his family, he decides to lie. He radios in to say that he has travelled more nautical miles and that he is hitting record-breaking speeds. When the other competitors and unable to finish the race it becomes appears to be a cat and mouse chase between him and Nigel Tetley. When Tetley’s boat sinks, Crowhurst is the last man standing. The guilt of winning festers inside of him and Firth’s performance is as intriguing as it is heart-breaking. His performance is inside out and watching him spiral out of control in solitude feels voyeuristic. James Marsh’s direction is extremely powerful in these scenes and his vision for Crowhurst's suicide is poetic, crushing and beautiful.
The more I reflect on this film, the more I appreciate it. It’s incredibly moving and crushing and like a wave has highs and lows. I do believe that this story would lend itself to a Channel 4 documentary better, as projected into people’s homes and reviewed by Gogglebox it would maybe stay in the public conscience more than a heartbeat. I am perplexed at the casting of Rachel Weisz and her involvement in this film. For an Oscar winner to be subjected to the dull role of wife is despicable. The only bit of meat her character gets is a dramatic speech that is very 2018 when the press arrives at her home following her husband’s death. With the material given, she delivers a stellar performance of authenticity and grit.
I’d wait until BBC show this at Christmas and watch it with your Nan.