Jillian Schlesinger’s Maidentrip condenses 14-year-old Laura Dekker’s quest to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world down to a breezy 80 minutes, which isn’t to say it’s all killer, no filler.
Though certainly inspirational, the film could hardly be called probing: The range of emotions exhibited by Dekker (who shot most of the footage herself) ranges from mildly introspective to utterly euphoric, the one exception being her annoyance with a nosy reporter.
Were there no moments of nagging self-doubt or close calls worth recounting in any significant detail? Schlesinger seems in such a rush to guide us to the end unscathed that she sometimes loses sight of the small details that make this journey unique.
Only near the end, while the intrepid teen is waiting for wind in the Indian Ocean for a full 12 days, does Maidentrip emphasize the drudgery and repetition of it all — and keep in mind this is a few minutes in a documentary about a 519-day campaign spanning over 27,000 nautical miles.
An even more resonant moment comes when Dekker, who was born in New Zealand and feels less connected to her adoptive home of the Netherlands the longer her voyage goes on, is forced to sail past her birth land due to time constraints.
She later takes down her Dutch flag and raises that of New Zealand in its place. “I don’t really have a home,” she says shortly after. “Home to me is Guppy,” her endearingly named ship.
Dekker encounters interesting people and beautiful surroundings throughout Maidentrip, but her journey doesn’t become truly compelling until she starts looking inward.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 15, 2014