Jodie Foster’s ‘Nyad’ Speech Is the Swoon-Worthy Romance I Want in All LGBTQ Films
Jodie Foster and Annette Bening are not technically in a romantic relationship in Nyad, the new sports biopic that began streaming on Netflix on Friday. But it’s still very much a love story, complete with the most romantic speech of the year.
Directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, with a screenplay by Julia Cox, Nyad is based on the true story of Diana Nyad (Bening), a long-distance swimmer who achieved her lifeâs dream of swimming from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida in 2013 when she was 64 years old. But the heart of the movie isn’t about the swim at allâit’s about the relationship between Nyad and her best friend of over 30 years, Bonnie Stoll (Foster).
Nyad neatly establishes the relationship between Diana and Bonnie in the first five minutes of the film. Diana insists she doesn’t want a party for her 60th birthday, and Bonnieâknowing she secretly does want oneâthrows her one anyhow. When a party guest mistakes them for a couple, Diana clarifies they are “just” best friends, who “dated for like a second 200 years ago.” Just like that, the audience now knows that Bonnie knows Diana better than she knows herself, that she will do what takes to make Diana happy, that their relationship is not sexual (anymore), and that neither of them are straight.
As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Bonnie loves Diana so much, that she’s willing to sacrifice everything in her life to help her achieve her dream. Diana is determined to complete the swim she attempted when she was 28âfrom the coast of Cuba to the coast of Floridaâdespite being in her 60s. Bonnie thinks she’s insane, but agrees to coach Diana and act as her handler on the water. It’s a job that includes feeding Diana from a tube, as she attempts to swim for over two days straight without stopping. Bonnie stays by Diana’s side through her second, third, and fourth failed attempts, risking her own life again and again to be there for her friend. She watches as Diana is stung by deadly jellyfish and nearly drowns herself. But after the fourth failed attempt, Bonnie tells Diana that she’s done.
Without Bonnie by her side, Diana finally sees the full extent of how she has taken Bonnie’s love for granted. There’s no one else in the world who loves her enough to hand-feed her while she attempts the impossible. But then, just before Diana is about to embark on her fifth attempt at the swim, Bonnie comes back. She shows up at Diana’s apartment in Cuba, to say her piece. She orders Diana not to interrupt, and then Foster launches into arguably the most romantic speech of the year.
“Alright. I’m here becauseâI’ve thought about it. And… you’ve been my person since we were like, 30, running around like idiots. You know, we do things together. We do, fun shit, boring shit, hard shit. I tried to do my own thing, but it just wasn’t the same.” At this, Diana starts to speak but stops when Bonnie holds up a hand, to indicate she’s not done yet. “The point is… we’re getting old together. You know? We’re getting old. And if you die, I want to be the last person you see. Don’t die. But if you do, I’m going to be right there with you.”
Come on. “If you die, I want to be the last person you see?” Tell me that’s not the most romantic line of dialogue you’ve heard all year, if not all decade. Foster delivers the speech without any pretension. There’s no grandiose language or fanciful inflection. She’s almost matter-of-fact in its devotion: This is a woman who would watch her best friend die, because she knows that would make her last moments happy. Bening is due for her Oscar of course, but Foster might just be gunning for a Best Supporting win, and she deserves it. The fact that Foster is a gay iconâofficially coming out in 2013 as a woman who dated other womenâonly makes it hit all the harder. It is a romance between two women who love each other deeply, even if they aren’t having sex.
The two women hug, and Bonnie accompanies Diana on her fifth, final, and successful swim from Cuba to Florida. Well, she more than accompanies herâshe physically gets in the water and swims alongside Diana at one point, in order to get her best friend back on track. It’s here when the two women exchange “I love you’s,” but by this point, we almost don’t need to hear it. We know they love each other. It couldn’t be more clear.
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