Stars: Annette Bening, Jody Foster and Rhys Ifans

Director: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyl and Jimmy Chin

Scriptwriter: Julia Cox

Composer: Alexandre Desplat

Cinemtography: Claudio Miranda


Rating: PG 13

Running Length: 120 Minutes

There are the daring, and then again, the daring. Going back a few years to the film “Free Solo” about a man climbing a mountain with bare hands and feet. Now, we have “Nyad,” about Diana Nyad, the championship swimmer and her 100 mile-plus trek from Cuba to the United States swimming all the way.  

Diana Nyad (Annette Bening) was sports minded at an early age and winning medals and swimming meets for years. She also had a career as a swimming competitor, sports announcer, author and performer. The film, “Nyad” is on the preparation for her swimming feat and with it, her close friend for years, Bonnie Stoll (fervently played by Jodie Foster.). There are three parts to this film, one for Diana, one for Bonnie and one for the swimming feat. The two actresses blend so well, especially Foster. She has an immediacy to her acting while Bening is all bravado in her role as the I-know-it-all Nyad. 

We see what happens when planning a feat of this size. Boat, radio equipment, exercise, special foods, no shark tank but a full body suit this time, as there are unfriendly jelly fish in the ocean. The two women plan together, fight together and understand each other.  This is a long friendship and headed for victory as Nyad begins the over 50 hour swim from Cuba to  Florida. One can hardly imagine the effort involved in this and she timed her movements to 4/4 time.  Concentration, patience, and mindset to keep going in water for over 50 hours. Imagine sitting in a large bathtub for two and a quarter days before getting out. 

There has to be a friendship with the captain (Rhys Ifans) and crew of the boat. Diana, being of self interest, is often not kind. She is a good athlete and she knows it. However, throughout her life, Diana Nyad was set apart as not having accuracy in her record keeping. Thus, this long swim between Cuba and the United States is nor considered official. 

The photography, on water and underwater, is particularly well done, by Claudia Miranda and the soundtrack by Alexandre Desplat is descriptive. Annette Bening takes the role of Diana Nyad and goes ahead full steam. Try, try and try again before perfection and that means the entire swim, including those nasty jelly fish. By the way, Nyad was over 60 years old when she accomplished this feat, after years of trying.  Determination to the outer limits.      

Copyright 2023 Marie Asner