Monday, November 25, 2019

Maiden (2018) Shows Courage Against All The Odds

Maiden documentary review
Sony Pictures Classics
Rarely does history feel like its shifting when the status quo remains the same. Yet when we look on the past as a kaleidoscope of groundbreaking events in politics, entertainment, and sports, culture is transformed because a few ordinary people were called to forge their own path. A small moment creates a ripple effect that lasts for generations. Maiden tells the inspiring true story of Tracey Edwards and her bid to race the 1989–1990 Whitbread Round the World Race with an all-female crew for the first time.

Much more than a documentary, Maiden captures Edwards’s journey before she changed the competitive nature of sailing forever. As the crew’s cook Jo Gooding says, “If you believe in everything people tell you, you can't do, what would humankind have achieved?”. With captivating footage exploring the chapters of Edwards's life from childhood to adulthood, Maiden dives deep into the courage of the women who dared to do something different: not only be a woman stepping into a man’s world but compete the best that they could.

As much as the film is a documentary, it also works as a biopic, capturing the essence of someone's life and the challenges they faced to become who they are today. The trajectory of gates being closed to Edwards dates back to her childhood when her father passed away and her mother couldn’t take over his HIFI business. Like sailing, it was a male dominated field. Similar to the ocean, there’s a fire burning within her that made her not want to give up. After Edwards tried to make it on her own as a teenager with a clan of misfits, nomads, and dropouts all running away from something on the sea, the environment of skippers and father figures spurned her to go a step further: charter her own all-female crew and race with them.

The Whitbread Round the World Race maps out 33,000 miles from Southampton in South East England to Uruguay, and then Ft. Lauderdale in Florida. Divided into different courses, teams push each other and fight against mother nature to navigate the ocean for top prize. Sliced in between real footage of their journey are interviews with Edwards, her crew members, journalists, and male competitors who give you a full portrait of the hurdles to commandeer their own ship as spectators and critics placed bets they wouldn't survive the first leg.

The Maiden's trials are as big as its triumphs – when they first rally together to prepare, no company or brand steps up to sponsor them; while the male competitors are asked questions about their skills; the media looks for jealousy and catfights for the women; everyone thinks they won’t make it, and when crewmates have to literally be tied to the ship to avoid being thrown overboard as they battle massive waves, there is a genuine chance they might not survive one part of the race let alone the whole expedition. Their small victories also add up: finding the right sponsor who believe women can do anything, overcoming injuries and learning to work as a team. Through every step of the way as the Maiden races around the world, the voyage Edwards starts is far different physically, emotionally, and socially then when they finish.

Though she's not a fictional character drawn from a novel or comic book, the film is a wondrous character study of Edwards, her crew, and the state of the world for women both in 1989 and now. The calling for the Maiden team to have a natural freedom to do what they love grows into a subtle movement, one where they don't just want to participate; they want to make an impact and to be seen for more than the generic stereotypes of being a woman. Maiden sets out to become an example of what people can do when they work hard and aren't hold back by their gender or other societal stats. The film also sets a lasting impression that you don't know you're changing the world in the moment, but sometimes there's nothing else you can do except to trust your instincts and go further than anyone else has gone before.

Rating for Maiden: ★★★
Have you seen Maiden? What do you think?

Please Note: I was provided with a screener in order to watch this film. This is not a sponsored post. My opinion is my own. Maiden is currently available to watch on Amazon, Youtube, Netflix DVD, and GooglePlay.

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