Friday, November 11, 2022

Dive (AKA: La Caida): Movie Review

Captivating, compelling and important.
Mariel (Karla Souza) is an Olympic diver. She won the bronze medal when she was 15 and now almost a decade and a half later, she’s trying to get back there for her last chance at gold. Injuries and self-sabotage have plagued her career previously, but now the rest of the world might come crashing down with her. Dive starts with a very minimalistic feel but builds to a compelling and important story.   2022

Directed by: Lucia Puenzo

Screenplay by: Monica Herrera, Samara Ibrahim

Starring: Karla Souza

When Mariel’s current partner lands with an injury only one event before the Olympics, Mariel needs a new partner. Her coach suggests Nadia, a 14-year-old wunderkind, and the second-coming of Mariel herself. Mariel is furious, it’s her last chance at the Olympics, and they want to pair her up with a child. Mariel is normally perfectly capable of messing things up herself – with a volatile personal life and countless pills that her doctors and pharmacists think are too much for her – and now it’s either train with Mexico’s next superstar or call it quits, since her coach is threatening to pull her from the Olympic team altogether.

It starts with an intimate look at Mariel’s life and pulls off that balance between sympathy and almost callousness for a very flawed, single-minded and determined heroine in Mariel. Just as Mariel’s ready to settle into the final training drive, her coach Braulio has been suspended by Mexico’s national swimming and diving federation due to allegations of sexual abuse. And the allegations have come from none other than Nadia, well Nadia’s mother. Nadia herself is way too focused on her Olympic dream.

The coach keeps arguing about his importance with zero regard for the victim. Mariel keeps arguing that it must just be a misunderstanding with zero regard for the victim. At this point the film has put itself on a 20-meter-high springboard holding on by just its toes. But these filmmakers know what they’re doing. Very subtly, positions change, perspectives change, and Mariel is now at the forefront of a story about achieving your dreams at any cost, but what if there is a cost, a cost that many in society have been blind to for ever? The movie is no longer this small minimalistic intimate portrait, but now has multiple players with background music and a Mariel who is in full command of her future.

Dive (or La Caida in the original Spanish) feels like a spiritual successor to Nadia Butterfly from Quebec. I think this movie does a better a job painting a full portrait of Mariel throughout the runtime and tying her story to that of sexual abuse that our society is currently reckoning with, especially in sports. It’s anchored with an enthralling performance by Karla Souza about an athlete at the top of their game finally realizing that maybe there is a cost that isn’t worth it.

Available on Amazon Prime Video

One of the Best of 2022 (click on button for full list)

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