The Arabian Motorcycle Adventures: Storyville

The Arabian Motorcycle Adventures: Storyville

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Review

It's difficult not to think of Timothy Treadwell, the tragically deluded subject of Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man, while viewing this inconclusive but often fascinating documentary about a young man obsessed with his own image. It follows Matthew VanDyke, a pampered only child whose severe OCD and loathing of his fearfulness and cosseted lifestyle prompts him to take a "crash course in manhood" in the form of a wildly risky, solo motorcycle trip to the Middle East. When the Libyan uprising erupts in 2011, he determines to fight on the side of the rebels: a decision that sees him under fire, arrested by Gaddafi's henchmen and put in solitary confinement for six months. Oscar-nominated documentarian Marshall Curry uses the footage that VanDyke shot to carefully piece together a picture of self-obsessed youth desperate to prove himself. Quietly spoken and apparently unremarkable, VanDyke slowly reveals himself as an impossibly naive, confused and narcissistic product of the selfie culture. Despite much inner reflection he seems to be as bewildered by some of his decisions as we are, leaving the audience to conclude it might have been better to work out his issues on a therapist's couch rather than in the world's blood-soaked war zones.

Summary

Documentary about the experiences of Matthew VanDyke, a sufferer of obsessive compulsive disorder. In 2006, the then 26-year-old bought a motorcycle and video camera and set off from his Baltimore home on a 35,000-mile trip taking him through notorious troublespots in northern Africa and the Middle East. Film-maker Marshall Curry captures VanDyke's search for political revolution and personal transformation.

Cast & Crew

Director Marshall Curry
Series Editor Nick Fraser
Documentary