True Spirit review: Decent retelling of true events

In ‘True Spirit’, 16-year-old Jessica Watson attempts to break the record for the youngest person to sail across the world. The Australian biopic is now streaming on Netflix.


Jessica Watson (Teagan Croft) always had an affinity for the sea. At the age of 12, she learnt how to sail and never looked back, making sure she learn everything about the ocean.

She decides to tackle the milestone of becoming the youngest person to circumnavigate the world through the sea at the age of 16.

Her family and media fear the worst when her trial run doesn’t go as planned. A cargo ship hits her boat and shatters the mast.

The journalists ask tough questions to unsettle her and her sailing coach, Ben Bryant (Cliff Curtis), but they remain undeterred.

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Jessica finally embarks on the journey of a lifetime and runs into a number of roadblocks along with way. Does she achieve this extraordinary feat?


Teagan Croft is excellent as Jessica. She captures the teenage innocence of her character along with the grit and determination that made such an achievement possible.

Cliff Curtis ably supports her as her coach, while Anna Paquin (Julie Watson), Josh Lawson (Roger Watson), Stacy Clausen (Tom Watson) and Bridget Webb (Emily Watson) all play their part well.


The film does not fall into the trap of a drab biopic that feels more like a documentary. This is a fictional retelling of a teenager’s story and tries its best to feel that way.

The flashbacks provide ample background on the character of Jessica. The pick of the bunch is the recollection of how Ben inspired her to undertake the journey.

There is no holding back on how many obstacles Jessica faced during the voyage. It paints an adequately vivid picture of what it’s like to spend months in the sea.


True Spirit can go over the top at times. The conclusion is extremely unsatisfactory and not explained well, undermining the achievement a bit.

Jessica’s family are reduced to fans. Their characters’ personalities are not explored at all, apart from her father, Roger, who is repeatedly shown to be worried about her well-being.


True Spirit is a true story of resolve that needs to be watched and celebrated. The film is engaging enough and should especially appeal to you if biopics are your cup of tea.

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True Spirit review: Decent retelling of true events 1

Director: Sarah Spillane

Date Created: 2023-02-03 15:30

Editor's Rating:

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