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Maidentrip - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Directing: B+
Cinematography: B
Editing: A-

Laura Dekker is a young Dutch woman whose dream it was to become the youngest person ever to sail around the world. "Young" is arguably an understatement: she embarked on her two-year journey at the age of fourteen, and likely would have started at thirteen but for attempted government interference. She went through many months of legal battles in her home country to win the right to go on this trip alone.

So what about her parents? You must be wondering. What kind of freaks are these people? Not that freaky, actually, although any sensible person might find their parental motivations dubious. Laura's mother and father divorced when she was young, and because her dad was the one passionate about sailing, she stayed to be raised by him. Her sister went with their mother, living far away but visiting semi-regularly.

This film doesn't offer a whole lot of insight into Laura's dad, so focused is it on her and her trip around the world. What kind of dad lets his fourteen year-old daughter go like that? For all intents and purposes, he gave up all responsibility for her at that moment, granting her independence. Fourteen is a ridiculously young age for that. The thing is, he also taught her well, and left her incredibly well prepared.

If this were a fiction film, like Life of Pi or All Is Lost, Laura would be sure to encounter massive, life-threatening challenges throughout her travels. And actually, one could say she does -- but unlike the characters in those other movies, Laura is actually up for the challenge. She has all the necessary equipment (much of it donated by sponsors) and she knows how to use it. Every challenge she encounters, she enjoys. Her sail boat gets pretty beat up off the coast of northern Australia, necessitating a month of working on repairs -- but she never gets capsized in the open sea or anything like that. She's even well aware of geopolitical dangers, and takes a longer route to avoid waters known to be trafficked by pirates.

Laura isn't interested in breaking any records. She just wants to see if she can be the youngest person to sail around the world -- which means that if there's anything at all she's racing against, it's just a certain age, which she must still be once she has circled the globe. She happily stops at places all over the world, gets off and explores, meets temporary friends. In the end she discovers she still prefers being at sea.

This is an extraordinary young woman -- so young she could barely even be considered a woman. But she's staggeringly sharp and instinctive, and surely has an amazing life ahead of her. She has little patience for journalists, one of which tells her it would not be surprising if she was in history books a hundred years from now. That may be, but it's not what Laura is thinking about. She just has an unparalleled passion for sailing, and wants to challenge herself.

Watching this movie has the potential to make you feel like you're wasting your life. Why not just up and go? See the world? It probably isn't as difficult as any of us want to convince ourselves it would be. There is a flip side to this kind of independence, of course, especially that young: not being accountable to anyone but yourself, for too long, can easily make you an alienating asshole. There are hints of this when Laura's dad visits her in Australia, a year after she left home. She's been away so long she doesn't actually miss him anymore, and she bristles when he comes even close to exerting authority. Eventually, though, Laura is sailing with a companion, which can only be good for her.

Maidentrip is a quick 82 minutes, almost flawlessly edited. A great deal of footage was shot by Laura herself, out in the open sea. We see her cooking food, keeping up the boat, sailing through rain storms and astonishing locals when braving the swells as she rounds the southern tip of South Africa. Presumably experiences will vary, but Laura's trip makes an endeavor like this look much less terrifying than Hollywood would want us to believe.

Not that she makes me want to sail around the world alone in a forty-foot boat. I'd be terrified of being in even calm waters in the middle of the Pacific. Maidentrip doesn't offer much insight into what makes this unbelievably driven teenager tick, but she still manages to command attention without really trying.

Laura Dekker aims to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone in MAIDENTRIP.</a>

Overall: B+
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