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Based on a true story about human endurance, Nyad requires quite a bit of endurance to sit through itself: the picture is bland, has zero momentum and leaves you emotionally cold.

With every swim stroke 60-year-old Diana Nyad does in the open water between Cuba and Florida you should be urging her along. With every new attempt to finish the harrowing 103-mile crossing you should be rooting for her. And yet her efforts merely illicit a shrug., which goes to show this film must be doing something seriously wrong.

This is surprising, since the directors of Nyad, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, had me on the edge of my seat with their previous film about a pigheaded extreme sportsperson, the Oscar-winning Free Solo.

That film of course was a documentary, while Nyad is a fiction feature and a particularly hamfisted one to boot, with an overload of endless exposition, an annoyingly repetitive narrative and a subplot about sexual abuse that is an ill fit with the classic trope of the underdog athletic achievement.

There are some redeeming features however, in the form of excellent supporting performances by Jodie Foster and Rhys Ifans, who do a much better job of fleshing out their underwritten characters than Annette Bening does in the lead role.

Clearly intended as an awards season player, Nyad never lives up to that billing. It is at best a harmless film to watch with your nan on your Sunday visit and even then, expect her to probably doze off.

release: 2023

director: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin

starring: Annette Bening, Jodie Foster, Rhys Ifans, Luke Cosgrove


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