A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Lots of inspiring messages about resilience, goal-setting, and the power of friendship. As Diana herself summarizes, the messages are: 1. Never, ever give up; 2. You're never too old to chase your dreams; and 3. Swimming looks like a solitary sport, but success takes a team.
Positive Role Models
The three main characters display aspirational characteristics. Diana Nyad overcomes limitations that come with age and ageism to achieve a lifelong dream. She must put herself through intense training, assemble a team, and secure funding -- it's not just a matter of trying to do something on her own, and that's seen and felt. A beacon of perseverance, she's also remarkably resilient, having to contend with trauma to succeed. Bonnie, the best friend anyone could hope for, helps Diana reach her milestone. And navigator John Bartlett knows his stuff, shows that he's there to support Diana but vocally objects to permitting dangerous situations and sets boundaries when his expertise isn't respected.
Female-centered story from a female writer and co-director. Main character Diana Nyad set her record without protection or assistance while in her 60s, showing that age is truly just a number. Diana and Bonnie are lesbians, as are some of their friends, and they're portrayed positively and with depth. Women are shown succeeding in traditionally male-dominated jobs, like boat captain and marine biologist. The three main characters are White; some Black and Latino supporting characters.
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Violence & Scariness
Memories of childhood sexual abuse are interwoven throughout, depicted by a man entering a bedroom where a young teen is sleeping and the girl later shown crying. Conversation reinforces that it was sexual assault, and the impact on the victim is clearly communicated. Graphic description of a violent revenge fantasy against the perpetrator. Diana is in deep peril during aspects of her swim from Cuba to the Florida Keys, including swimming through a lightning storm and being attacked by sea creatures.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief image of a photograph of the real Diana Nyad nude from the back as a testament to her athleticism. Flirting.
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Strong language includes "a--hole," "badass," "d--k," "s--t," "what the hell," and "f--k." Diana mutters insults to herself, like "stupid bitch." "Jesus!" used as an exclamation.
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Products & Purchases
Brands can be spotted throughout, including Diana wearing a Tyr swim cap, Bonnie constantly sipping Diet Coke, and a boat captain wearing a Modelo cap.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Beer is seen at a party. A character wears a hat with the name of a beer. Cigarette sign.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Nyad tells the inspiring story of Diana Nyad (Annette Bening), who, in 2013 at the age of 64, became the first person to swim 110 miles from Cuba to Florida. Nyad is definitely an excellent example of what you can accomplish with intense determination, no matter your age or circumstances. But she's presented in her full complexity, and her determination and self-confidence can translate as abrasiveness. And at times, she's disrespectful to her team. She learns and grows, but teens may notice her prickliness more than her awesomeness. Nyad's behavior is balanced by the warmth, kindness, and love of her closest friend, ally, and coach, Bonnie Stoll (Jodie Foster), who's portrayed as a hero in her own right. Themes include integrity, perseverance, courage, teamwork, and resilience, and the film offers positive representation for women and LGBTQ+ characters. Expect allusions and references to childhood sexual abuse and some strong language ("d--k," "s--t," "f--k," etc.). To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is a fascinating biopic about a woman who embodies the power of sheer determination. In their first narrative feature, married filmmakers Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi -- known for documentaries Free Solo and The Rescue -- use their ability to shine a light on audacious perseverance to create a movie that parents and coaches can use to show tweens and teens that "can't" is sometimes a nonsense word. (At this point, it seems fair to say that these two are obsessed with proving that nothing is impossible.)
Despite able assistance from other talented folks -- Foster, Bening, composer Alexandre Desplat, cinematographer Claudio Miranda, and editor Christopher Tellefsen -- the filmmakers didn't make this project easy on themselves. Swimming isn't a cinematic sport: Swimmers' faces are often in the water or hidden by gear, and there's not a lot of talking. Chin and Vasarhelyi also chose to embrace the difficult side of Nyad's personality instead of just highlighting the charisma that's given her a career in sports broadcasting. Like true documentarians, the duo don't tell viewers what to think about Diana Nyad: They show us why she is who she is, how her challenges fueled her, and the motivation behind her drive to succeed. Nyad is fully dimensional, and first-time feature writer Julia Cox boldly depicts a female athlete who gets pretty far because she's doggedly and sometimes unpleasantly insistent -- a trait often met with more acceptance in a man. Society is still grappling with accepting tough women who don't feel the need to smile when they're in the trenches, and perhaps Nyad is a step in showing that accomplished women should be allowed to be imperfect, too.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Our Editors Recommend
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