SXSW 2019 – Review: MAIDEN Almost Gets Lost At Sea

FIRST IMPRESSION

Maiden was an all-around solid documentary, especially in execution, but it wasn't as captivating or compelling as the story should have been.
Directing
Entertainment Value
Technical Merit

Maiden is a new documentary film directed by Alex Holmes. The movie tells the story of Tracy Edwards who, in 1989, led the first all-female yacht crew to compete in the Whitbread Round the World Race. It debuted at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival and played at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival.

Edwards’s story is definitely very interesting and inspiring. The Whitbread Round the World race is certainly a cinematic event, and Edwards is one of the most notable and unique competitors to have ever participated in the event. The beginning of the film was dedicated to the preparations, but when the race actually begins, the intensity ramps up and you vecine immersed.

Edwards is able to present a very interesting perspective on the misogyny that still plagues our modern society. The message of the movie is definitely inspiring, as it shows people that they can do anything they dream of if they are dedicated and willing to persevere. There are quite a few moments that caused the audience to applaud and cheer because of how inspiring and impressive they were.

That being said, the film doesn’t do a great job of developing each member of the crew. Edwards is obviously very sympathetic as the skipper of the crew and the protagonist of the movie, but none of her crew is as well-developed. The film would have been much better as a whole had the other subjects been made to be more compelling.

The movie is also very inconsistent with its pacing. In the beginning of the film, the pacing is much slower because less is happening over a longer amount of time. The beginning is just a general survey of the lead-up to the race. Once the crew sets out on the race, the pacing picks up and the movie becomes much more exciting. If the first half of the film had been as exciting as the first, the movie as a whole would have benefitted.

One of the film’s other issues is that the interviews utilized were somewhat bland. Although their stories are interesting, the interviewees don’t tell them in the most captivating or cinematic way. Perhaps the movie would have benefited from having a voiceover narration in lieu of the interviews. This could have quickened the film’s pace and made it feel more cinematic.

On a technical level, the movie was quite good. A majority of the film is comprised of archive footage and new interviews with the participants. The framing of the interviews is good, but generic, as they are set up against a simple, solid-colored background. However, the editing is very good, the use of music being particularly memorable.

Overall, Maiden was a solidly-made and inspiring documentary, although it doesn’t quite live up to expectations. The first half is definitely not as strong as the second half.

Maiden played at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival. It opens in theaters on June 28.

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Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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