By Jordana Seal, Third Year, Theatre
True Spirit (2023) tells the real story of 16-year-old Jessica Watson, the youngest person to circumnavigate the world solo. The film follows her non-assisted, non-stop sail around four capes in her boat named ‘Pink’. As well as her relationship with her encouraging family and grumpy ex-sailor coach Ben Bryant.
The story is narrated using Jessica’s video logs that she takes throughout her journey and uses flashbacks to drive the story and add depth to the relationships explored.
The film, like its title, is simple and seems like something that I have already watched. This is probably because the narrative follows the traditional Netflix formula, Jessica experiences bumps in her relationships and journey, but she gets through them in the end.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the story is the theme of loneliness that felt slightly out of pocket for a PG Netflix film. While Teagan Croft, the actress of Jessica Watson works well with the material and conveys this emotion in a non-cringey way, the lack of depth in the writing makes this exploration of teen mental health seem more like a surface level grasp to bulk up the plot.
Sadly, the green-screen FX also fell flat making the scenes at sea seem very fake, sometimes distracting from what was actually going on.
The redeeming factor of the film surprisingly, was the soundtrack. The combination of current pop hits and old classics effectively reflected both the emotions and personality of Jessica. The current pop music which included songs such as Walking on a Dream, Geronimo and Home, seemed like an insight into the character’s personal playlist and made the 16-year-old sailor seem relatable. Linking into the storylines continuing message that anyone can follow their dreams.
The anthem of the film is David Bowie's Starman which is only featured on the soundtrack via an acoustic cover and Jessica herself. However, it does a good job at connecting Jessica with her family while out at sea.
If you’re looking for a film that lets you switch off from your studies, simultaneously go on your phone or act as background noise then this film is worth a watch. It is certainly not a cinematic masterpiece, but like most of the films in this genre it is heart-warming and fun. The real Jessica Watson’s story is certainly admirable, but it may be worth reading her memoir instead of watching this film.
Featured Image: Netflix and IMDB
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