"Deep Water" is about a boat that couldn't and a man who shouldn't have.
But this affecting documentary -- which revisits Donald Crowhurst's tragic bid in 1968 to be the first to sail single-handedly around the world -- is more than rote retelling. It's a deeply human story about a man who dreamed big and paid dearly, about a wife who languishes even today in regret and about now-grown children who are forced to live a legacy of loss.
When the British newspaper the Sunday Times sponsored a round-the-world race, Crowhurst, a soft-spoken, slightly nerdy Englishman, needed the $5,000 cash prize for his family and the romantic glory. So he worked with designers and raised money to create a trimaran that -- he thought -- would outpace his competitors. He set sail Oct. 31, 1968, and the rest of the story is evocatively told in a fluid combination of archival footage and contemporary interviews. Those interviewees include compelling testimony and recollections from Clare Crowhurst (Donald's wife) and Simon Crowhurst (his son), who also feature significantly in the archival scenes; competitor Robin Knox-Johnston; and Fran?oise Moitessier de Cazalet, whose husband, Bernard Moitessier, was also in the race.
On an even deeper level, "Deep Water," directed by Louise Osmond and Jerry Rothwell, is a postmodern spin on two myths. The first is the story of Daedalus, the scientist-visionary whose bold technology -- wings of feathers and wax -- took his son, Icarus, to unimagined heights until he flew too close to the sun. The second is the story of Odysseus, a man who left home and nearly lost himself and his family in the process. And as with those myths, the movie leaves us with greater things to contemplate than a mere tragedy of errors.
-- Desson Thomson (Sept. 7, 2007)
Contains mild profanity.