TL;DR – An impressively acted story that is let down by forced conflict and unnecessary padding.
Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit sequence
Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this film.
True Spirit Review –
There are these moments that you remember because they touched all of society when they happened. Usually, these are moments of tragedy that cut through the world, but for Queensland and Australia, we had the moment built on triumph. Today’s film is based on that long journey by Jessica Watson across the planet.
So to set the scene, Jessica Watson (Teagan Croft) grew up on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia, where water was always on your doorstep. She learned how to sail on the open ocean, catching the wind and riding the waves here thanks to her coach Ben Bryant (Cliff Curtis). Jessica had one dream: to sail around the world by herself, which took a bit of a beating when her boat was severely damaged by a cargo ship in the 2009 trail run. But with everything going against her, Jessica is determined to make the trip before the government legislates that she can’t go.
The strength of this film comes from the cast. Teagan Croft has to carry a lot of this film on her shoulders, and she pulls it off. You feel those moments of joy when she is at the top of the world and those low moments in the doldrums, where everything is falling apart. There are these moments when there are whales in the background or the Milky Way in all its glory, and they are the highlights of the film. Add a strong supporting cast of Cliff Curtis, Anna Paquin & Josh Lawson, and you have an engaging base for the story. There was a lot of this film where I had a smile on my face, and I think that was from the strength of the cast and the base story they are adapting. Though I will say that there was a lot of emotional engagement, it only remained at a surface level.
However, while I did like a lot of what I watched, there were areas where the seams started to show. Unfortunately, there are these narrative beats that feel like they exist only to heighten tension in a forced way. You can feel the narrative gears grind as it goes from point to point, which actually starts to devalue the true story it is based on. With events getting padded out a lot more than reality. An excellent example is the reporter Craig Atherton (Todd Lasance), who is just a painful character to which the film always cuts back to. The whole third act suffers from this the most, which is unfortunate because it undoes a lot of the work that had been built up to that point. Also, it is apparent that the majority of the film was not recorded on the open ocean.
In the end, do we recommend True Spirt? Yes, well, sort of. The story behind this film is inspiring, and it is sort of worth it for that alone. However, it is, unfortunately, a film that suffers from you being able to clearly peer behind the curtain and see the narrative pulling the leavers. If you liked True Spirt, I would recommend to you Ali’s Wedding.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of True Spirit
Directed by – Sarah Spillane
Screenplay by – Cathy Randall, Rebecca Banner & Sarah Spillane
Based on – True Spirit by Jessica Watson
Music by – Nick Wales
Cinematography by – Danny Ruhlmann
Edited by – Veronika Jenet
Production/Distribution Companies – Resonate Entertainment, The Rebel Fleet, Sunstar Entertainment, Martin Chase Productions & Netflix.
Starring – Teagan Croft, Cliff Curtis, Anna Paquin, Josh Lawson, Todd Lasance, Stacy Clausen, Bridget Webb & Vivien Turner
Rating – Australia: PG;