NYAD review: Excellent performances elevate inspiring narrative

In NYAD, a long-distance swimmer attempts to swim from Cuba to Florida at the age of over 60. The sports biographical film is based on the true story of Diana Nyad and is now streaming on Netflix.


In 1979, Diana Nyad (Annette Bening) attempted to swim from Cuba to Florida, but failed. It’s 2010 and she is now turning 60.

She always looks back at the death of her dream and feels restless due to the fear of succumbing to mediocrity. She desperately wants to achieve something extraordinary.

She returns to the pool and remembers the feeling she got while swimming. Confident that she can still pull it off, she tells her best friend, Bonnie Stoll (Jodie Foster), that she wants to re-attempt the swim.

At first, Bonnie does not take her seriously. But Diana really wants to try and asks Bonnie to be her coach. Bonnie, herself, has experience in sports as she was a professional racquetball player.

Together, they onboard expert navigator John Bartlett (Rhys Ifans) to assist them. Diana also refuses to use a shark cage, aiming to be the first in history to complete the swim without it.

Diana, Bonnie and their crew tackle what many think is impossible. Do they succeed?


Bening and Foster are phenomenal as the two lead characters of the film, Diana and Bonnie respectively. They expertly bring forth the personalities of the two real-life figures.

Their chemistry as best friends keeps you glued to the screen. The actors match each other step by step and end up giving performances that will leave a mark.


NYAD retells an inspiring story in an engaging manner. The dialogues and interpersonal relationships of the characters leave you hooked.

It does an excellent job of showing the dangers and elevates Diana’s achievement. It’s one thing hearing it on the news, but to almost go on this journey with her is quite the experience.

The film does not fall into the trap of the biographical genre where the protagonist is shown as this flawless figure. Diana is fumbling her way to success, both professionally and personally.

She mistreats her friends, but later realises this. The characters in general feel grounded and real, not fictional pieces that can do no wrong.

The constant clips of the real attempt create a captivating combination. You’re shown both the reel and real versions blended together. It also delves into minute details of the swim and you can see the effort put in.


Diana’s flashbacks of molestation by her coach and her father’s memories could have been portrayed better. These feel like forced additions, while they could have been assimilated into the narrative seamlessly.


NYAD is a well-crafted film that celebrates a remarkable achievement. It emphasises that one should never give up and Diana’s story will no doubt inspire many. A must-watch.

NYAD review: Excellent performances elevate inspiring narrative 1

Director: Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi

Date Created: 2023-11-03 17:30

Editor's Rating:

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