Young Woman and the Sea: The Queen of the Waves

(L-R): Tilda Cobham-Hervey as Meg Ederle, Daisy Ridley as Trudy Ederle, and Kim Bodnia as Henry Ederle in Disney's live-action YOUNG WOMAN AND THE SEA. Photo by Vladisav Lepoev. © 2024 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Daisy Ridley delivers one of her best performances yet as American swimmer Trudy Ederle in Young Woman and the Sea.

There are a good amount of positives to enjoy about the film. Unfortunately, there are also some negatives. I love a classic underdog story but I love them even more when they actually get the history right. There’s no reason to change things just for the sake of dramatic liberties! When will filmmakers understand that you don’t need to change somebody’s story just to score some more Hollywood points? Jeff Nathanson’s script didn’t need to take dramatic liberties in telling Ederle’s story. Trudy’s story alone with worthy of a biopic. I’ll have more on this shortly. All of that not withstanding, the work from editor Úna Nĺ Dhonghaíle and composer Amelia Warner elevates the film on top of the acting performances.

Trudy Ederle (Daisy Ridley) became a legendary swimmer in a world that frowned upon female athletes. She competed in the 1924 Paris Olympics, winning one gold (relay) and two bronze medals. If the film is to be believed, Team USA’s women’s coach–Jabez Wolffe (Christopher Eccleston) in the film–didn’t feel like training the women’s team while crossing the Atlantic. What a shame. Anyway, the swimmer–a daughter of German immigrants–perservered in swimming after recovering from measles as a child. Her sister, Meg (Tilda Cobham-Hervey), was thought to be a better swimmer but it was Trudy who kept pushing herself in the pool. Before anyone knew it, Trudy was crushing world record after world record in swimming. In 1926, she would conquer the English Channel by swimming a new world record. Instead of 21 miles, she swam 35.

Lets talk about fact versus fiction. There’s nothing about Trudy’s swim from Battery Park to Sandy Hook in New York City in 1925. We get a three-hour swim instead. While the film would have us believe that her first attempt at swimming the English Channel came in 1926, it actually came in 1925. Maybe it’s a typo? I’d like to think it was just a simple mistake that nobody caught. There’s no doubt that Jabez Wolffe didn’t want her to finish but the way he did it in real life is different than in the film (beef broth, not tea). In the film, Trudy’s recovery in the hospital after the first attempt takes about two weeks or so. The film makes it seem that Trudy stayed in France. History says otherwise as she began training with Bill Burgess (Stephen Graham) upon returning back to New York after the first attempt.

Regarding casting–Charlotte “Eppy” Epstein was Jewish but I can’t find anything online regarding Sian Clifford. If Clifford is not Jewish, it continues an unfortunate trend of casting non-Jewish actors as Jews. Nice use of Yiddish with the word for imbecile.

Following test screenings and the success of The Boys in the Boat, Disney changed the film’s release plans. It was originally going to Disney+. Instead, the film is getting a limited theatrical release. Surprisingly, the film is not getting a release in my hometown. Funny enough, both films use “Ain’t We Got Fun” in their soundtrack.

DIRECTOR: Joachim Rønning
SCREENWRITER: Jeff Nathanson
CAST: Daisy Ridley, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Stephen Graham, Kim Bodnia, Jeanette Hain, Glenn Fleshler, Sian Clifford, Christopher Eccleston

Disney will release Young Woman and the Sea in theaters on May 30, 2024. Grade: 4/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.