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An opportunity to share with Sarah Outen her extraordinary journey around the world.

 
Home (2019)  

Sarah Outen

 

Earlier this year we saw Maiden, an outstanding documentary by Alex Holmes centred on Tracy Edwards and her participation in the Whitbread Round The World Race that started out back in September 1989. With Home, a film by Jen Randall, we have a somewhat comparable work but one different enough to be well worth the attention of those who have already seen Maiden. This time the focus is on Sarah Outen and her more recent trip around the world. In her case, however, it was a journey which, while always reliant on human power, saw her travelling in turn by bike, kayak and rowing boat and included at its most hazardous her solo crossings of the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans. Both bad weather and physical and mental ill-health would play their part but, with breaks for recovery between the various stretches, Sarah would persist in the task which she had set herself to test her limits and would devote four and a half years to doing it.

 

This was also an undertaking to advocate an adventurous life and to raise funds for charities, but the emphasis in this film is on the endeavour itself as was also the case in the recent release The Run featuring the Australian marathon man Pat Farmer. Given the amount of ground (and sea!) to be covered, this focus is understandable even if details about Sarah Outen herself (her bond with her late father, her meeting and marriage with Lucy Allen) have to be squeezed in at odd moments. Similarly, although the film gains from the changing backgrounds en route, there is limited time to convey the character of the many countries through which she passes (indeed Japan is hardly glimpsed). But the film does convey very well Sarah’s rapport with two individuals. One was Justine Curgenven, an expert with kayaks and a filmmaker herself who was often alongside her and became a friend; the other was a stranger encountered in China, Gao yua Guang, who shared her bike journey through his country and usefully spoke English as well Chinese, a language unknown to Sarah herself. There is real unforced warmth in the scenes featuring these two.

 

Home is not a flawless film - indeed the early scenes suggest nothing so much as home movies, an impression heightened by the often banal and rather tiresome music heard on the soundtrack. But at its heart is Sarah Outen herself. She may describe herself during the first stages of the trip as ‘a rare bird in a strange land’ but we find ourselves increasingly drawn to her and come to admire her honesty (not least when it comes to the issue of the mental problems brought on by the experience of surviving three days strapped down while a storm raged in the Pacific). She is also splendidly direct and never gives herself airs. The early scenes in Home may have limited appeal, but, as the film goes on, one is more and more caught up in this extraordinary venture undertaken by an uncompromising woman anxious to find her true self in a meaningful way yet also able to learn the positive lesson of when to let go.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Featuring  Sarah Outen, Justine Curgenven, Gao yua Guang, Lucy Outen-Allen.

 

Dir Jen Randall, Pro Jen Randall and Sarah Outen, Screenplay Jen Randall and Sarah Outen, Ph Jen Crook, Justine Curgenven, Sarah Outen and others, Ed Matt Hardy and Jen Randall, Music Peter Gregson and Tom Rosenthal.

 

Light Shed Pictures-Jonny Tull.
92 mins. UK. 2019. Rel: 18 October 2019. Cert. 12A.