Film Review: Nyad – 7/10

‘Just because we are on a one way street hurtling to death doesn’t mean we have to succumb to mediocrity...’

I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with me but movies that other people find inspirational often leave me cold. Perhaps it’s the expectation of emotion that puts me off or maybe it’s the fact that many of these films are quite manipulative in the way they demand sentimentality but either way, movies like Nyad are not for me, traditionally. Indeed, I only watched this one because both of its co-stars were nominated for acting Oscars and I wanted to see what the fuss was all about…

Diana Nyad (Annette Bening) reignites her absolutely insane lifelong dream of swimming 110 miles from Cuba to Florida. She enlists the help of her best friend Bonnie (Jodie Foster) and open water expert John Bartlett (Rhys Ifans) to help her achieve her dream.

Based on a remarkable true story, Nyad is undoubtedly heartwarming and Diana Nyad’s real-life achievements are genuinely jaw-dropping. Bening and Foster do a great job of bringing two larger-than-life personalities to the screen without scenery chewing or resorting to parody. Both of these characters feel like real people, which I guess is why both actors received their aforementioned Oscar nominations. One issue I did have is that Nyad herself is portrayed as a selfish asshole. I’m not sure if that was what I was supposed to take away from the character but regardless of intent there is no denying that Nyad demanded that everyone on her team made massive sacrifices.

Nyad is a crowd pleaser and a truly inspirational story (or Oscar bait if I was being harsh) but like many films in this genre, I never really connected to it on any kind of emotional level. That being said, the performances are great, directing duo Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Vasarhelyi direct the hell out of the underwater scenes and Julia Cox’s script is funny and poignant. Not a classic but a nice Sunday afternoon film nevertheless.