“True Spirit” Review: The spirit of perseverance

Teagan Croft as Jessica Watson sitting at the front of the sailboat talking on a satellite phone. [Netflix]

Teagan Croft as Jessica Watson sitting at the front of the sailboat talking on a satellite phone. [Netflix]

Soft rocking of a boat, waves crashing against the hull, the sound of the sea moving around the vessel. Calm, quiet, tranquil.


Jessica Watson’s boat collided with a cargo ship. Shock. That sure wasn’t how I expected the movie to start. 

“True Spirit” is a movie that came out February 3, 2023, based on the true story of Jessica Watson as she set out to be the youngest person to sail alone, nonstop, and unassisted across the world at just 16 years old. The movie takes majority of its material from Jessica Watson’s book of the same name, which details her experiences as she navigated the world. 

I personally have a love for the ocean and sailing. Having spent my entire childhood moving from country to country, one constant I could always count on was the ocean. Sailing was something I grew up seeing on TV and in real life as I often visited the beach with my family. Although I hate sand — and still do — I love the ocean and getting to spend time in the water, which has always been my favourite thing to do on vacation. 

After hearing that they were making a movie of Jessica Watson’s journey, I was excited. I read her blog and watched some of her videos. I had great expectations for the movie. And it did not disappoint. 

The soundtrack was great, not to mention the scenery. But one thing that truly elevated the movie was the great acting. At one point in the movie there’s this moment as Jessica, played by Teagan Croft, calls her family as they celebrate Christmas, and you can see her slowly start feeling detached and isolated. The actress did an amazing job of showcasing these emotions on many more occasions as well. 

All the stunts and emotional moments made me appreciate her even more as an actress. I already knew her as Raven Roth from DC’s “Titans” series, so seeing her take on a different type of role and just doing such an amazing job at translating all of those emotions into the scenes was truly beautiful.  

One particular moment that truly stood out was when there was no wind to sail with, leaving Jessica stranded, waiting for a saving grace. You can see how she slowly starts losing her mind and breaking down. The close-up shots of the dirty dishes, the uncleaned cooking tools, rumpled clothing, and the messy area helped to further show how much it was affecting her. 

Teagan Croft as Jessica Watson leaning on railing for support as she braves a storm. [Netflix]

Seeing her breakdown, I was reminded of myself and my friends. Carnegie is a very demanding school — that isn’t a secret — and sometimes it can be too much. When I get overwhelmed and frustrated, I forget to clean up my room and pick up my dirty clothes. I become exhausted from doing nothing and just sleep, hoping I’ll wake up to something better. 

Jessica reacts much the same, even pulling away from her family (something I’m guilty of doing too). I also know that many others do the same, they think that giving up is better, so they let themselves fall and go backward (much like how Jessica lets the boat drift in the opposite direction, too exhausted and numb to try to move forward).

Seeing the wind pick up and Jessica’s mood lift made me so happy. Having that wind come and start things up again felt like a blessing. Jessica reaches out to her family again and realises she isn’t alone. This was even further proved when she read through the comments left by her fans that thanked her for inspiring them. She also learned to rely more on her mentor, someone she could trust to always act in her best interest. I believe that is something all of us need to remind ourselves more of. Having a support system or a safety net to fall back on is always helpful. 

Even with all the obstacles she faced Jessica persevered, something I think many people can relate too. Carnegie students are stubborn and unyielding in certain aspects. They want results and answers, so they go get them. They create a network to help each other, whether it is personal or academic help you need. It’s a wonderful community. This also reminds me of how after her boat collided with that cargo ship at the beginning, other sailors helped repair it so she could go on her journey and accomplish her dream. 

Teagan Croft as Jessica Watson basking in the rain after a storm. [Netflix]
But above all, I think my favourite part of this movie wasn’t a scene, or a specific dialogue, it was a more subtle lesson woven into the storyline. The ocean is a harsh teacher, but a fair one. It taught Jessica to be strong, taught her not to pull away, taught her that she has support, and taught her that she can do anything she puts her mind to. Our own teachers are much the same — they teach us many things we need academically, socially, and emotionally. 

One of my personal mottos is moving with the flow when necessary. That motto is shown surprisingly well throughout the movie. 

During the first storm that Jessica had to go through, she had to deploy a drogue to keep her stable but still move, albeit slowly, through the storm. Sometimes, moving with the flow is not the best course of action. Sometimes you need an anchor to hold your own while retaining flexibility and understanding. 


On other occasions it’s best to just move with it — to follow the flow. During the last and most stressful storm, everyone expected Jessica to pull into the harbour and give up. But with her family’s support, she decided to go through the storm instead. She forwent the drogue and just let herself drift. The visuals were shocking: the scenes of the seventy-foot waves, the storm clouds, her boat capsizing. But she made it. She came back up to the surface and she finished her journey. Sometimes letting things play out is best. 

Overall, the movie was a smashing success. A 10/10 rating from me with the amazing acting, soundtrack, and scenery. I definitely recommend watching this inspirational movie that is available to stream on Netflix.