True Spirit (2023)

True Spirit (2023)

An inspirational, though generic, cruise depicting the real-life adventure



Australia, United States of America
English, French, Japanese
Adventure, Drama, History
Alice Tate, Alyla Browne, Anna Paquin
109 min


It’s a great pick-me-up, but there could have been more.

What it's about

Australian teenager Jessica Watson sets out to be the youngest person ever to sail solo, non-stop around the world.

The take

Lighthearted, inspirational, and warm, True Spirit is the real life story of how the young Jessica Watson circumnavigated the world. Through YouTube-esque vlogs and scribbled out title cards, the film follows the real-life journey, alternating between the sailor with the situation back home, as her mentor and family keep track of her current progress. Inspired by the book, the film fairly sticks to the facts written in her travelogue, but True Spirit mostly plays out the same way a Disney Channel Original Movie would, with its young protagonist setting out for a whimsical adventure, just for the sake of it. It makes for a beautiful film with stunning views and heartwarming messages about perseverance, but it’s more an easy cruise than a daring adventure, as it plays out without any courage in its approach.

What stands out

True Spirit is based on a true story, so understandably, being a biopic, it’s more likely to show its protagonist in a positive light. Of course, the positive approach makes sense, after all, not all sixteen year olds aim to sail around the world and it’s based on the book from the real Jessica Watson, but there are some aspects that they could have delved into. They could have depicted the way her journey was covered in the media, compared to the male circumnavigator she was inspired by. They could have delved into her personal motivations, or depicted sailing as a passion, rather than an arbitrary goal to commit to. They could have even discussed her dyslexia, or even the way she chose homeschooling over the standard academic path her siblings took. Instead, True Spirit plays out easy in Disney Channel-esque fashion with upbeat beats from the early 2010s, making it a missed opportunity for such a daring adventure.


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