Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Deep Water

Deep Water

Rated: PG 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: September 28, 2007 Released by: IFC Films

This very absorbing documentary shows how adventure can lead to folly and obsession.

Deep Water, in and beyond its name, is accurate and haunting in its account of Englishman Donald Crowhurst who attempted to sail around the globe in 1968.

The conventional non-fiction rendering here with suitable low-key narration by Tilda Swinton works surprisingly to incisive effect after it unfolds after flashbacking from a tremulous moment in 1969.

The British perspective of this kind of oceanic event wasn't dissimilar from the notion of space travel for the U.S. (in the race to get to the moon) at the time. This cinema verite unspools effectively, though not in crowd-pleasing fascination like In the Shadow of the Moon.

How aspirations can lead to sobering moments for oneself and their family become the heart of an enormous undertaking by Crowhurst. He'd mortgage his house and really distance himself from his family, wife Clare, and four children, including son Simon. This owner of an electronics shop which sold navigation equipment would participate in a race where nine contestants would be reduced to four, and, ultimately, one.

Without divulging too much of a tale maybe not widely known, especially to those of the current generation, Crowhurst was a bright, yet troubled individual. He put his family's livelihood and emotional well-being on the line by the funding from those involved with London's Sunday Times. The long-time isolation from the start in May of 1968 would be foreshadowed perhaps by the number of times of trying to break a bottle of champagne.

Like Moon there is some amazing archival material on view from Crowhurst's old audio recordings, 16 mm footage, and photographs. Also, some telling and wrenching interviews with Clare and Simon that help one understand (to a degree) this mysterious husband and father perhaps looking for immortality on the high seas. Directors Louise Osmond and Jerry Rothwell have made the anxiety and loneliness quite an experience in this tautly made documentary.

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Deep Water       B+       B+

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