Whale of a Tale Productions

A Post Production Company
INDY-JK--7494

The Finest Hours by Craig Gillespie (2016)

I had wanted to see this film when it came out, but had decided to wait till Netflix DVD, especially since it got only a 63% on Rotten Tomatoes. Now having seen it, I wish I had seen it in the theater, so that I could have seen it in 3D, since it is a Disney film, and they didn’t release a 3D version on DVD. I actually really enjoyed this true story. In fact I liked it much better than almost all of the Oscar contenders that I have seen. It is a great story, has some interesting characters, great effects, plus it is a Cape Cod story which makes it even bettter for me! I highly recommend this film.

 

In 1952 in Chatham on Cape Cod, Coast Guardsman Bernard “Bernie” Webber (Chris Pine) meets the girl he has been corresponding with through letters. This is Miriam Pentinen (Holliday Grainger) and the two start seeing each other, and she asks him to marry her, at first he refuses, but then he agrees, but has to get permission from his commanding officer Daniel Cluff (Eric Bana) before they can Mary. Bernie doesn’t want to get married, because of the big storms likely coming, and knowing that men die. On the day Bernie has promissed to ask Cliff a big storm arrives, and 2 tankers manage to get torn in half off of Cape Cod, though only one had gotten a message out. The SS Fort Mercer has ripped in half, losing it’s Captain and 7 crew members, and it’s radio was knocked out. The ship has a 17 foot crack in the engineering section, so it though the bulkheads are holding, it is sinking. The unliked Chief Engineer Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) takes command, and tries to ground the ship on sholes, by manually stearing it, while the crew mans the pumps.

 

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

 

Bernie on a previous rescue couldn’t get his ship past the breakwaters, and a people died. Carl Nickerson (Matthew Maher) whose sister died, and he blames Bernie, but he heard the whistle from the SS Fort Mercer.

 

Bernie volunteers to go out with his best friend Andrew Fitzgerald (Kyle Gallner), Ervin Maske (John Magaro) and Richard P. Livesey (Ben Foster who didn’t bother me here).

 

On the ship Nickerson has some allies, Fauteux (Graham McTavish) who has a broken arm, but D.A. Brown (Michael Raymond-James) wants to use the life boats, though the sea is too stormy.  Nickerson cuts the lines to the lifeboat, and as soon as it goes into the water it is completely dashed against the hull.

 

Miriam learns that Bernie is taking the boat out and thinks it is suicide a tries to get Cluff to call him back. Cluff orders her out of the station and she leaves her coat. And on her way driving back she crashes her car and gets help, getting taken hom by Carl’s other sister.

 

Bernie takes the boat out, and manages to get it over the shoals, but the pilot house loses it’s cover, Bernie his hat and the compass is broken.

 

Nickerson manages to ground the stern, but it is filling in with water from the crack, and that will push it off the shoel because of all the water in the ship.

 

Bernie manages to find the ship, and the crew must go down a rope, but the cook George “Tiny” Myers (Abraham Benrubi) falls his death. The boat is supposed to only hold 12 more, but they manage to load on 32 crew members and head toward what Bernie thinks is the shore. He gets orders to transfer the crew members to another ship, but without a working compass, he has no chance of finding it and heads to where he thinks shore is,

 

Miriam and all the townsfolk turn their headlights on their cars on and point them to see since the town has lost power, and Bernie uses the light to get to shore.

 

We see photos of the actual incident and learn that Bernie and his crew each earned the Gold Lifesaving Medal, the highest honor the coast guard gives. And Bernie and Miriam married and spent their life together till he died 58 years later.

 

****

 

A very good film. I wish I had seen it in 3D. Really enjoyable with good characters and a great story. Well worth seeing. Why was it so badly reviewed?

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