(director/writer: Joachim Ronning; screenwriters: Jeff Nathanson/book by Glenn Stout; cinematographer: Oscar Faura; editor: Una Ni Dhonghaile; music: Amelia Warner; cast: Daisy Ridley (Gertrude ‘Trudy’ Ederle), Kim Bodnia (Henry), Lotte Epstein (Sian Clifford), Jeanette Hain (Gertrude), Stephen Graham (Bill Burgess), Tilda Cobham-Hervey (Meg), Christopher Eccleston (Jabez Wolffe, coach), Glenn Fleshler (James Sullivan), Alexander Karim (Ishak), Lilly Aspell (Young Meg, Trudy’s sister), Raphael J. Bishop (Henry Jr., Trudy’s brother), Olive Abercrombie (Young Trudy Ederle); Runtime: 129; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Jerry Bruckheimer; Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures; 2024)

“Feeds us too much schmaltz.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A beautifully produced film (wonderfully recreates the look and feel of the period Brooklyn neighborhoods where the story was set) but is riddled with disturbing factual changes, takes too many dramatic liberties with the story, and feeds us too much schmaltz.

The true story historical swimming biopic is directed and written in the old-fashioned formulaic way as an inspirational underdog story by Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Ronning (“Kon-Tiki”/”Max Manus: Man of War”), and is adapted by co-screenwriter Jeff Nathanson to the screen from the 2009 book by Glenn Stout.

It tells the captivating feminist story of Gertrude ‘Trudy’ Ederle (Daisy Ridley), the feisty butcher’s daughter of immigrants from New York who, in 1926, became the first woman to swim the English Channel (the 21-mile long Channel).

As a child in 1914 Trudy (Olive Abercrombie) overcame measles and a death scare, and as a result was treated with kid gloves by her family. She continues to overcome obstacles in her life until she realizes her swimming dreams. She has full support from her homemaker mom (Jeanette Hain) and her sexist but hardworking butcher dad (Kim Bodnia), and also from the pioneering female swimming teacher (Sian Clifford).

Years later the competitive Trudy (Ridley) joins a new women’s swim team and wins a spot on the 1924 US Olympic team in Paris. When home again, she trains to be the first woman to swim the English Channel–knowing that only five men have done it.