The story of one Donald Crowhurst's brave but foolhardy (only on hindsight?) attempt in 1968 to become, in a race, the first person to sail around the world non-stop and solo, when up to then his sailing experience had been little more than localised boat trips. I can just about recall the news at the time on his having been found to have falsified his submitted locations in order to mislead the public and media back home into thinking that he was making spectacular progress on his venture, but I couldn't remember how it had ended.
It's this cheating aspect that gives this otherwise 'not another!' story its unusual, more interesting angle. If it had not been based on fact we might have seen the intrepid, would-be hero courageously taking to the high seas and battling the elements, all with a cat on board which would have come to a nasty end. Thankfully there's none of that here.
Colin Firth, in a role that seems to fit him like a glove, plays Crowhurst, who leaves his wife (Rachel Weisz) and two young children behind in Devon (the film's director, James Marsh - who also did 'The Theory of Everything' - hails from next-door Cornwall), to enter a round-the-world race, he having staked his house as security for financing the building of his trimaran vessel and his attempt, success in coming first would guarantee him fame and riches. Local interest is fierce, played out foremost by local newspaper reporter, David Thewlis (too little seen on screen these days).
It's not long after his feted departure that Crowhurst's problems start appearing and mounting up, making him quickly aware how ill-equipped he is, both in terms of his own expertise and the dubious reliability through ill-construction of his boat - not to mention the mental capacity he requires to see his difficulties through. His near despair at lack of meaningful progress takes him to the fateful decision to phone in fictitious locations to give the lie that his speed is surpassing all expectations. (I suppose that nowadays there'd be some means of satellite tracking to verify where the person actually is?) And the outcome? As you almost certainly won't know the story you'll just have to see it.
I felt it was a reasonable enough film. It's hard to see how else they could have played it out, being tied to the facts as we now know them looking back. There's little room for imagination, though all the players come out of it with heads held fairly high - though, Rachel Weisz gets to be little more than a shadow for her husband who is, unsurprisingly, the film's strong focus.
An unusual story, certainly, though its curious nature results in a mere momentary pause before one passes onto the next item of interest - much like this film itself.............6.
25 minutes ago