Friday, March 18, 2016

The Finest Hours (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

“The Finest Hours” Is Sea Story About Doing Right Thing
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Think of this as “The Perfect Storm” meets “The Poseidon Adventure.” Two ships break up during a storm and a dauntless Coast Guard team sets out on a rescue mission. Or as one of the Coastie’s girlfriends calls it, “A suicide mission.”

The film is titled “The Finest Hours” and that pretty well sums up this act of heroism. It’s currently playing at Tropic Cinema.

This Disney movie is based on a same-named book about a real-life situation off Cape Cod back in 1952. No spoiler alert, this being about a historic event. It’s the edge-of-the-seat telling that will enthrall you, not plot turns.

During a severe nor’easter two T2 oil tankers (SS Fort Mercer and SS Pendleton) broke in half. The Fort Mercer got off a call for help, but the Pendleton couldn’t. The second distressed ship was accidentally discovered by shore radar being used by the Chatham, Massachusetts, Lifeboat Station in its search for the Fort Mercer.

Boatswain’s Mate First Class Bernard C. Webber volunteered to take his 36-foot motor lifeboat CG-36500 on this nigh-impossible rescue mission. He and his three-man crew fought the heavy seas with 60-foot waves and hurricane-force winds, managed to pull up under the Pendleton’s broken-off stern and offloaded 33 stranded seamen.

Coast Guard vessels and aircraft rescued another 29 from the sinking Fort Mercer. Only five lives were lost among the tankers’ crews.

Webber and his men were awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal for their heroism.

Chris Pine (you remember him from the new “Star Trek” blockbusters) takes on the role of Webber. Casey Affleck (Ben’s brother), Ben Foster, and Eric Bana are other recognizable faces. Holliday Grainger plays the concerned girlfriend.

Bernie Webber passed away in 2009, so Chris Pine didn’t get to meet the man he portrays. But he listened to several recorded interviews. “For him, this was his job,” Pine says. “This was what he was supposed to do and just like anyone clocking in for a job, his task was going out and saving people, and a real sense that there was no glory in it for him or any need for self-aggrandizement. It was just very simple.”

Pine adds, “This is almost like a studio film from the ‘50s, you know? There’s no cursing and people are good and right and love conquers all, it’s really very sweet. There’s a sweet earnestness to this film that people will either engage with or the cynicism of the world will win out.”

Let’s root for sweet earnestness. And doing the right thing.

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