Metacritic (8/10), Letterboxd (4/5), Imdb.com (8/10), TMDB.com (4/5)
It’s been said that it’s never too late to pursue one’s dream. But how many of us who are getting on in years actually make the effort to accomplish that? As time passes by, we may begin to feel like life is passing us by, too, sweeping away the opportunities to fulfill those aspirations and leading to relentless disappointment, frustration and depression. So it was for famed marathon swimmer Diana Nyad (Annette Bening) as she entered her senior years. Having accomplished much as a long-distance open water swimmer as a young adult, she subsequently became a broadcaster for ABC Sports, serving as an expert on the subject. But that work didn’t provide the same satisfaction as what she was born to do, an undertaking that made her feel like she had taken a 30-year detour in her destiny. That changed, however, when she decided to get back in the water and attempt to make the 103-mile swim from Havana, Cuba to Key West, FL, a long-cherished dream she tried but failed at when she was 28. At 60, however, she believed she could still do it, and so she set off on a quest to complete it, a pursuit that everyone said was unrealistic and impossible at her age. As a headstrong, never-say-die force to reckon with, though, Nyad forged ahead with her best friend, Bonnie (Jodie Foster), serving as her often-beleaguered coach. Directors Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi bring this fact-based story to life in this engaging biopic, chronicling Nyad’s odyssey and, in the process, never shying away from portraying the fabled swimmer from all angles, both as a heroic, determined role model and as an off-putting, obstinate pain in the butt. The storytelling approach is admittedly somewhat formulaic and a tad overlong, but the picture’s overall execution provides an authentic depiction of the grueling ordeal Nyad and her crew underwent, all effectively brought to life by the star power of Bening and Foster in their respective roles. The film also provides Nyad’s childhood back story, illustrating how she steeled her lifelong resolve for success and refused to play the part of a victim when the going got tough. It’s also refreshing to see a release that’s not afraid to showcase the story of an older woman, an often-overlooked demographic in contemporary cinema about a character who just might have something worth saying. “Nyad” probably doesn’t qualify as epic filmmaking, but it certainly makes the most of everything it has to work with, presenting viewers with an entertaining and inspiring watch, especially for those who feel cast aside and reconciled to their circumstances but who still have a burning desire for excellence aflame within them.