Critic Reviews



Based on 19 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
It’s one of those limited-release films that few will see, with acting so compact and contained that everyone who loves great screen performances should. Weisz, Firth and Thewlis give us understated, unfussy performances that lift The Mercy, a wonderfully tragic story with a hint of magnificence about it.
Despite the hint of a stiff-upper-lip kind of reserve, this is astonishingly brutal. And Firth’s performance makes this dark, dark story land.
Firth is terrific in an unbelievable-but-true tale that charts a course from the ridiculous to the profound.
Directed with even-keeled intelligence by James Marsh, and buoyed by a performance of customary reserve and resolve from Colin Firth, The Mercy tells its story...about as well as it can be told. Yet there’s no denying it’s a muted, disconsolate affair, one that by necessity shrinks before viewers’ eyes into something less rousing and noble than what they were initially promised.
Firth remains in low gear throughout his character’s transition from fuzzy dreamer to desperate schemer to mad transcendental poet. It takes a bit of voiceover to get the job done, but Firth’s steadfast refusal to chew scenery turns out to be the key to his performance
The later stretches, which are forced to become oblique and symbolic in the absence of any hard evidence about what really happened to the sailor, showcase some of Firth’s best screen work.
In prioritizing Crowhurst’s psychological frailty over his physical challenges (both conveyed more evocatively in the excellent 2007 documentary “Deep Water”), Firth and his director find something quietly touching, even soulful, in the character’s wretchedness. In this somber tragedy, the real demons are never anywhere but right inside that boat.
I walked away from this picture both moved and confused. Because it’s got Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz in top form, The Mercy nails the emotion, but comes up somewhat short as a narrative.
Marsh has crafted a compelling film, yet for all the fine performances and intriguing subject matter it is never quite compelling.
This unresolved maritime mystery feels oddly flat and functional, diluting a tragic tale full of unanswered questions into an anodyne middlebrow weepie.

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