Either you’re from the generation that remembers the events of Donald Crowhurst, or like me, he hasn’t been meme enough to be remembered. Tales of daring across the ocean don’t exactly penetrate my generation like it did the last. Circumnavigating the world these days is relatively a breeze, but back when Crowhurst made his single man attempt at sailing around the world without touching land in 1968 it was almost a death sentence.
That’s what the story ostensibly covers, an almost impossible adventure by an amateur sailor who had never been out of sight of land before. With a solid portrayal by Colin Firth as the optimistic underdog Mr. Crowhurst. To be able to afford an ocean going boat he goes into partnership with a PR guy (David Thewlis) to hype his adventure, and a local businessman (Ken Stott) willing to front the money. These are the first mechanisms of a self laid trap for Crowhurst. He has a tight deadline to get his boat in the water, as the other competitors have already set sail.
The stakes start to rise as his boat is launched unready, and a last minute contract written up betting his entire house and business on the journey forces him to dive headfirst into the adventure he had always wanted to undertake. That’s the thing about dreams, if you invest too much they get out of your control, and if you do it unwillingly, a dream can easily turn into a nightmare.
From there the story becomes one of survival. Fortunately you aren’t just watching a silent Colin Firth plodding around alone for an hour and a half. To keep the pacing the story goes back to dry land, to see the impact his insane adventure is having on the nation, the media, and his own family.
Rachel Weisz does an epic job as Mrs. Crowhurst and has one of the best speeches in the entire movie that will stick with you long after you leave the cinema.
Matt, a professional with an opinion, felt as though it was a cautionary tale, “It made me feel glad that my own sense of adventure amounts to little more than driving the long way home every now and then.”
This isn’t a paint by the numbers underdog tale of triumphing over the odds. Truth is rarely sexy. It’s a great film, but don’t expect to come out feeling like a million dollars.