Part personal quest, part testimonial and part fund-raiser, “A Journey in My Mother’s Footsteps” fulfills disparate agendas for helmer Dina Rosenmeier, a mildly resentful daughter wondering why her humanitarian mother prioritized orphaned Indian children over her own offspring. Stopping off at orphanages, schools and adoption agencies that her mother helped establish throughout India, Rosenmeier soon voices her own hosannas of praise for her mother’s tireless efforts as she tours the facilities, cuddling disabled children along the way. “Journey” opens Dec. 2 at Gotham’s Quad Cinema, but its transparent pretext and lack of tension make further play unlikely.
Jessie Rosenmeier, the laudable Danish humanitarian whose amazing achievements the docu chronicles, is alive and well, charismatic and extremely articulate. An interview in which she explains that a stillborn son drove her decision to help children worldwide resonates strongly. But why the daughter rather than the crusading mother should dominate the film becomes increasingly unclear, particularly since the abandonment issues that supposedly gave rise to the docu are resolved almost immediately. The film’s ultimate agenda may be to redefine Dina Rosenmeier’s motherless childhood as a heroic sacrifice to a higher cause.