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'Young Woman And The Sea' Review: Rousing And Fiery Tale Of Female Triumph

By Connie Lee June 3, 2024
Young Women and the Sea

Just like water is one of the strongest elements, so was legendary swimmer Gertrude “Trudy” Ederle amongst humans, having defied nature and societal norms to come out on top as portrayed in Young Woman and the Sea. Starring Star Wars alum Daisy Ridley, Young Woman is the latest sports biopic from Disney that stands out from others because it refuses to keep the story too safe. Instead, it features very grand period piece scenery, an emotional and honest narrative, and enough spirit to create an exhilarating theatre experience for a wide range of viewers.


Young Woman tells the story of Ederle, the first woman to complete the perilous swim across the English Channel. Starting from childhood when she beat the measles, the film follows her throughout her younger years, showing how she defied the odds and overcame the suppressing standards set by a patriarchal society to become a competitive swimmer and inspiration for women everywhere.


As far as sports biopics go, Young Woman follows the same straightforward format other films do. Even if someone didn’t know Ederle’s entire story, it’s easy to figure out the downfall, climax, and how she would prevail if they’ve seen other sports dramas like The Boys in the Boat or Cinderella Man. This predictability doesn’t take away from it though as there are still quite a few surprises mixed into the crowd-pleasing formula that will still catch audiences off guard and keep them hanging on until the end.

What makes this so effective is that it doesn’t sugar-coat or shy away – it’s always brutally honest and isn’t afraid to dig deep. The beautiful and intricate old-fashioned scenery and clothing are paired with the outdated values of the early 20th century. Along with the portrayals of sexism and female visibility, difficult discussions about women getting married versus following their dreams, culture clashes, family expectations, and much more are had, showing there is nothing sentimental or idyllic about the past. Watching how Ederle, her sister, and other females around them struggled internally and faced backlash from those closest to them just as much as they did from the outside world is difficult but makes the victories that much sweeter to see.

Young Women and the Sea

The entire cast is commendable and impressive, but it’s Ridley who carries the weight of the film on her shoulders. She’s proven again that she has an incredible acting range, providing the right amount of wit, emotional depth, and strength to make her role as Ederle feel natural and believable. From her gestures to her expressions, tone, and overall demeanour, it never feels awkward or stuffy, as if Ridley had trouble connecting to her character. If anything, this role should open up more opportunities for her to play in bigger projects because of her ability to shine in dramatic, epic stories like this one.

Even though it didn’t get a wide release, Young Woman and the Sea deserved to. It’s a tour de force (which has been rare from Disney lately) that can easily keep audiences captivated. So, hopefully, it will encourage the company to explore other amazing stories like Ederle’s and bring them to life – and ensure they’re available for everyone to experience on the big screen.

Star Rating

Rating When Evil Lurks

Young Woman and the Sea is out now in cinemas


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