“True Spirit” Film Review

Opinion posted February 15, 2023 in CommRadio, Arts & Entertainment by Cassie Baylis

“True Spirit”, a story of a 16-year-old girl sailing solo around the world, was released on Netflix, on February 3.

Directed and written by Sarah Spillane, this Australian film is a biopic about Jessica Watson’s unassisted circumnavigation around the world in 210 days.

Starring in the movie is Teagan Croft as Jessica Watson, Anna Paquin as Julie Watson, Josh Lawson as Roger Watson and Cliff Curtis as Ben Bryant.

The film follows not only Jessica’s journey, but also her family’s struggles as they worry for her safety throughout the trip.

“True Spirit” also highlights the reactions of worldwide media, as well. Reporters stake out on the Watson family’s front yard for the majority of the time Jessica is at sea.

Beginning with some of Jessica’s preparation for the trip, the movie goes through the process of how she was able to gain enough experience to take on such a feat.

The information coming from this background of her experience helps to explain how someone so young could be qualified enough to sail solo for so long and far.

Scenes of Jessica sailing, the sunsets/sunrises and the shots of ocean life, carry the film, as viewers get a sense of the sights seen while sailing in the middle of the ocean.

The cinematography and the soundtrack of this film sets an excellent backdrop for the story being told. Beautiful shots of the sea and inspiring music cater well to the story's message.

These aspects of filmmaking create a feel-good story, promoting an inspiring message that viewers of the movie can do anything they put their minds to, as long as they work hard enough.

While this inspiration gives the film a happy feel, some people might be left with the idea that “True Spirit” does not accurately encapsulate the main difficulties of sailing nonstop for over 200 days, all by oneself.

There are a few scenes where Jessica fights through storms or struggles with being alone while she journeys around the world. Although they seem few and far between, revealing only brief moments of emotion.

For instance, when “Pink Lady” saw no wind or waves for over a week and the boat was at a standstill, Teagan Croft accurately portrays Jessica’s feelings of loneliness as she has nothing to do for this time period.

These few depictions revealing true emotion in “True Spirit” affect the big picture, making the movie more positive in nature.

“True Spirit” is a feel-good movie that somewhat fails to depict a lot of the hardships of traveling at sea alone for a majority of the film. These inaccuracies make viewers question the similarities between the real Jessica Watson’s story and the movie's portrayal.

Therefore, the movie rates a 3/5, due to its overall filmmaking but pieces of the story lacking accuracy.

Viewers who do not mind that the real-life story and movie share differences will enjoy “True Spirit” as a standalone creation.

Rating: 3/5

Cassie Baylis is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email ceb6085@psu.edu.