Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Maidentrip

A remarkable young sailor is both in focus and elusive in this solid, seaworthy vessel.

Jan 16, 2014

-By Sheri Linden


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1392718-Maidentrip_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Dutch authorities tried to stop her, and editorials called Laura Dekker delusional, spoiled, insane. On the evidence of the documentary Maidentrip, the young sailor is as grounded, resourceful and clearheaded as anyone could hope to be. In 2012, she fulfilled her “delusional” goal and became, at 16, the youngest person to sail around the world solo.

Jillian Schlesinger’s first feature, made in collaboration with Dekker and composed largely of footage that the hardy adventurer shot herself, is both low-key and lyrical as it focuses on the mundane and the magnificent. The well-crafted film might not be destined to make theatrical waves, but it has enough cinematic oomph to draw niche interest in select markets. And given the international media attention Dekker’s journey received, Maidentrip is a sure fit for broad-based small-screen exposure.

Beginning with a Kickstarter campaign, New York-based Schlesinger provided her subject, who set out in 2010 without a follow boat or support team, with a Sony Handycam and mounted GoPro cameras. Novice camera operator Dekker captures the stillness of the open sea as well as the “super awesome” rainstorms and rough winds that toss her 38-foot ketch and sometimes create disasters in the compact kitchen.

The director also gave her lists of topics to address on camera or into a tape recorder during her downtime. What emerges, onscreen and in voiceover, is a preternaturally self-confident teen who doesn’t subscribe to her generation’s social-media egocentrism. When she says, "I don’t like when people tell me what to do," it’s not an expression of mere adolescent impudence but the voice of someone who knows what she wants and is willing to do the hard work to get it. Fame and publicity are ordeals for her, not goals, as her bristly impatience with a reporter demonstrates. Repulsed by Western conformity and materialism, Dekker quite pointedly arranges for the finish line of her circumnavigation to be somewhere other than Europe.

Schlesinger doesn’t get into the nitty-gritty, but Dekker’s trip was prefaced by a legal battle in which the Netherlands’ child-welfare bureaucracy sought custody of the then 13-year-old to prevent her from embarking on her solo trip. After 10 months, she prevailed. “They tried to break Laura down,” her father notes, “but she’s too strong.”

The inventive, moody score by Kentucky-based musician Ben Sollee is a fine enhancement to the material Schlesinger has selected to shape her tale of a brave soul eager to explore the wide world. With the help of lovely watercolor-style maps by animation house Moth Collective, the film charts the progression of the trip, interweaving material from family archives to provide the basic backstory.

Born during her parents’ seven-year sailing trip, Dekker is at home on the water; when her folks divorced, she stayed with her shipbuilder father to pursue her passion. Their life is anything but privileged. The Guppy, the boat of Laura’s landmark trip, was a wreck they bought cheap and refurbished themselves.

Director Schlesinger rendezvoused with Dekker at various ports along her route, and the film includes footage of her traipsing around St. Maarten, the Galapagos Islands and French Polynesia, among other picturesque locales. The beauty of the settings notwithstanding, her time on land at first has the so-what feel of home movies, but through the glimpse of her bond with an older couple, a portrait of the sailing community comes into poignant focus.

As the months go by, Dekker’s interest in being ashore lessens and, as for countless sailors before her, the solitude of the sea is what matters. Along the way she braves the treacherous Torres Strait, weeps at the company of a pod of dolphins and casually mentions that she’s chosen a certain route to avoid pirates. Through it all, she reveals only as much as she wants to reveal. The film’s final surprise is an apt illustration of this young woman’s singular combination of forthrightness and reserve.

-The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: Maidentrip

A remarkable young sailor is both in focus and elusive in this solid, seaworthy vessel.

Jan 16, 2014

-By Sheri Linden


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1392718-Maidentrip_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Dutch authorities tried to stop her, and editorials called Laura Dekker delusional, spoiled, insane. On the evidence of the documentary Maidentrip, the young sailor is as grounded, resourceful and clearheaded as anyone could hope to be. In 2012, she fulfilled her “delusional” goal and became, at 16, the youngest person to sail around the world solo.

Jillian Schlesinger’s first feature, made in collaboration with Dekker and composed largely of footage that the hardy adventurer shot herself, is both low-key and lyrical as it focuses on the mundane and the magnificent. The well-crafted film might not be destined to make theatrical waves, but it has enough cinematic oomph to draw niche interest in select markets. And given the international media attention Dekker’s journey received, Maidentrip is a sure fit for broad-based small-screen exposure.

Beginning with a Kickstarter campaign, New York-based Schlesinger provided her subject, who set out in 2010 without a follow boat or support team, with a Sony Handycam and mounted GoPro cameras. Novice camera operator Dekker captures the stillness of the open sea as well as the “super awesome” rainstorms and rough winds that toss her 38-foot ketch and sometimes create disasters in the compact kitchen.

The director also gave her lists of topics to address on camera or into a tape recorder during her downtime. What emerges, onscreen and in voiceover, is a preternaturally self-confident teen who doesn’t subscribe to her generation’s social-media egocentrism. When she says, "I don’t like when people tell me what to do," it’s not an expression of mere adolescent impudence but the voice of someone who knows what she wants and is willing to do the hard work to get it. Fame and publicity are ordeals for her, not goals, as her bristly impatience with a reporter demonstrates. Repulsed by Western conformity and materialism, Dekker quite pointedly arranges for the finish line of her circumnavigation to be somewhere other than Europe.

Schlesinger doesn’t get into the nitty-gritty, but Dekker’s trip was prefaced by a legal battle in which the Netherlands’ child-welfare bureaucracy sought custody of the then 13-year-old to prevent her from embarking on her solo trip. After 10 months, she prevailed. “They tried to break Laura down,” her father notes, “but she’s too strong.”

The inventive, moody score by Kentucky-based musician Ben Sollee is a fine enhancement to the material Schlesinger has selected to shape her tale of a brave soul eager to explore the wide world. With the help of lovely watercolor-style maps by animation house Moth Collective, the film charts the progression of the trip, interweaving material from family archives to provide the basic backstory.

Born during her parents’ seven-year sailing trip, Dekker is at home on the water; when her folks divorced, she stayed with her shipbuilder father to pursue her passion. Their life is anything but privileged. The Guppy, the boat of Laura’s landmark trip, was a wreck they bought cheap and refurbished themselves.

Director Schlesinger rendezvoused with Dekker at various ports along her route, and the film includes footage of her traipsing around St. Maarten, the Galapagos Islands and French Polynesia, among other picturesque locales. The beauty of the settings notwithstanding, her time on land at first has the so-what feel of home movies, but through the glimpse of her bond with an older couple, a portrait of the sailing community comes into poignant focus.

As the months go by, Dekker’s interest in being ashore lessens and, as for countless sailors before her, the solitude of the sea is what matters. Along the way she braves the treacherous Torres Strait, weeps at the company of a pod of dolphins and casually mentions that she’s chosen a certain route to avoid pirates. Through it all, she reveals only as much as she wants to reveal. The film’s final surprise is an apt illustration of this young woman’s singular combination of forthrightness and reserve.

-The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

A Long Way Down
Film Review: A Long Way Down

The plot of A Long Way Down is as awkward and as annoying as they come, but some really good acting by the film’s four major stars almost makes this one worth seeing. Almost. More »

Land Ho
Film Review: Land Ho!

A pair of seniors find friendship and renewal on a road trip through Iceland, but the journey is flatlined by lack of incident and tedious naturalism. More »

Rage
Film Review: Rage

In different hands, Rage could have been a devastating chronicle of the sins of the fathers being visited on their children, friends and random unfortunates. But Andalusian filmmaker Paco Cabezas, making his English-language directing debut, is unable to keep the complicated story and international cast in line; the results are never dull but are sometimes unintentionally hilarious. More »

Affluenza
Film Review: Affluenza

Handsome-looking but all-too-familiar drama about wealthy Long Island teens with too much money and time on their hands makes no inroads into the adolescent angst that afflicts the silver-spoon set. Like the recent and aggressively marketed Palo Alto, a screen pulse may awaken in ancillaries. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Dawn of the Apes review
Film Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

If Rise of the Planet of the Apes successfully restarted the dormant Apes franchise, the superior Dawn indicates the grand saga this new iteration might become. More »

Tammy
Film Review: Tammy

Hollywood’s most bankable big-screen comedienne is on the buddy-comedy road again, with a most worthy companion—a brilliantly out-there Susan Sarandon. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here