Starring: Annette Bening, Jodie Foster, Rhys Ifans, Ethan Jones Romero, Luke Cosgrove, Jeena Yi, and Eric T. Miller
Directors: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin
Nyad is alright for what it is, but it certainly could have been better. This true story is undoubtedly one worth telling, but the narrative is hindered by some baffling creative choices. There are some very jarring visual effects decisions that entirely distracted me during key moments where I should’ve been invested. I don’t think the film’s take on trauma and abuse is all that impactful either, with most of these scenes falling rather flat. I’m happy that Diana Nyad (played here by Annette Bening) managed to live up to her ultimate potential, but I wish I could say the same about her biopic.
On one hand, Nyad did produce some hard laughter; on the other hand, the movie is not supposed to be a comedy. It’s amazing how directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin direct the film with nothing to offer; however, whenever they try to go outside the box, the decisions are atrocious. Its mix of documentary-style formatting doesn’t work, and the movie doesn't give you anything beyond a feel-good ending. Jodie Foster and Rhys Ifans are good, but wow, Annette Bening is horrendous. Beyond being unintentionally hilarious, Nyad is a massive waste of time.
How do I miss these incredible feats that are accomplished during my lifetime? My ignorance happened to work in my favor this time as Nyad turned out to be an incredible story to learn about. It touches on past traumas and what might drive Diana Nyad (Annette Bening) to complete the insane feat of swimming from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage, but also portrays her in a somewhat unflattering light (however accurate this may be). It may not be an Oscar-winning film in any regard, but its hybrid documentary-style nicely highlights the imperfect human condition and what can be accomplished in spite of it.
This film was reviewed by Adriano as part of Bitesize Breakdown's coverage of the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival.