When I saw the trailer for NYAD, I thought it was another generic picture about “the triumph of the human spirit over adversity.” And, on the surface, it might just be that.
But I have to thank Kristin Noreen for her post, which revealed the film to be pro-single. It’s ultimately about the power of female friendship.
Annette Benning plays Diana Nyad, the real-life aquanaut who swam from Cuba to Key West on her fifth attempt. At her 60th birthday party, Nyad feels like she hasn’t truly done everything she can. Having made several badass swims throughout her life, she decides to complete that aforementioned swim, having tried and failed thirty years prior. She’s aided by a team of people, most notably, her best friend Bonnie, played by Jodie Foster.
When I saw the trailer, I thought Nyad and Bonnie were lovers, but I was happy to be proven wrong by Kristin. They had dated at one point, but now they’re the kinds of friends who know each other so well they can almost read each other’s thoughts. During her birthday party, Nyad’s encouraged by Bonnie to talk to a woman who seems interested in her, but there’s no chemistry. Nyad’s a single at heart. She even says post-celebration, “Dating. I don’t think I need that anymore.” Bonnie replies, “I hear ya. Me neither.” And that’s that. No more mentions of dating. No romantic subplot.
There is some conflict between the two friends, and Nyad has her character flaws, mostly stemming from what appears to be histrionic personality disorder and the need to put her needs above everyone else’s. Bonnie calls her out on it, as a good friend does. But they do reconcile, and on Nyad’s final swim, she’s at a point where she’s ready to give up. Bonnie jumps into the water to encourage her saying, “Don’t die. But if you do, I wanna be there with you.” During her final steps from the water to the Florida shore, Bonnie guides her through her last steps. And in her victory speech, Nyad says, “Swimming looks like a solitary sport, but it takes a times.”
And, in the end notes, we learn that Nyad and Bonnie are friends to this day. We need more films that celebrate friendship like that.