Daisy Ridley standing with a crowd behind her in Young Woman and the Sea
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

‘Young Woman and the Sea’: Daisy Ridley Is Captivating in the Real-Life Story

Daisy Ridley has consistently proven herself as one of our most versatile performers. Young Woman and the Sea is no different. The Joachim Rønning film tells us the true story of Trudy Ederle, the first woman to swim across the English Channel from France to England.

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From a young age, Trudy (Ridley) wanted to swim. After being sick and told that swimming would put her at risk of losing her hearing, Trudy was still determined to learn how. We also get to see Trudy’s sister Margaret (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) taking lessons and as the two grow together, their love of the water is what bonds them. Even more than being a movie about Trudy Ederle and what she did, this is a story about sisterhood, connection, and determination.

Look, I love an inspirational sports movie and no one does it quite like Jerry Bruckheimer productions. That said, inspirational sports movies focused on women can often come with a broad, hollow-feeling “girl power” angle. Fortunately, Young Woman and the Sea manages to avoid that. Trudy is an athlete exhibiting strength and brilliance while taking on whoever comes her way—which, yes, does include obstacles based on her gender. But the film makes it clear that Trudy was not trying to prove that she could do it because she was a woman. She was trying to prove she could do it for herself. The movie highlighted what this one woman set out to do and the success she found for herself.

Throwing Ridley into the water

Daisy Ridley facing the water looking at the sea
(Walt Disney Motion Picture Studios)

I was mesmerized by the use of the ocean in this movie. It helped that Ridley herself was actually swimming in the ocean as Trudy. Yes, if this was CGI or Ridley was in a pool it could have worked but the stakes felt so much higher given the feel of the ocean. A movie about a woman who just wants to swim really needed that energy and Ridley brought it. But what I really loved about Young Woman and the Sea were the people Trudy had in her corner.

We needed the story to work with Trudy (and it very much does thanks to Ridley’s brilliance) but without characters like Margaret or coach Bill Burgess (Stephen Graham), it would have just been a lot of “look what I can do.” We watch as Charlotte Epstein (Sian Clifford) believes in Trudy and agrees to coach her. And even with the sexist men who wanted to bring Trudy down, there was always someone willing to step up and see what she could do.

Maybe it is because of my love of sports movies and the lack of them centered on women (if you search for female sports movies, 50 titles come up, compared to the multiple categories for male ones) but I loved every second of this movie. Trudy knew she could do it and so she did. She didn’t let the world tell her that she wasn’t good enough and even when it felt impossible, she proved them all wrong and that’s just a beautiful story to watch unfold.

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.