2 Movies Like Summit Fever (2022)

Staff & contributors

, 2023

After winning Oscars for their documentary work, filmmakers Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin make their narrative feature debut with Nyad. The move to narrative fiction isn’t a monumental jump for the director duo, whose cinematic documentaries (among them Free Solo and The Rescue) play like nerve-shredding action thrillers and intense human dramas. Nor does Nyad’s subject — another extreme feat of human daring and endurance — make this feel a million miles away from their most famous works.

The most obvious departures from the directors’ documentary strengths — Nyad’s flashbacks and hallucination scenes, for example — do sometimes highlight their newness to narrative filmmaking, however. These scenes feel shallow and therefore disconnected from the movie’s otherwise deeper treatment of its subject, just as the performances dip into outsized cliches at times. Mostly, though, Nyad manages to float above the trap of trying too hard to be an inspirational sports drama thanks to its confrontation of Diana’s prickly personality. This flips the film’s perspective onto that of Diana’s team (including her coach and former girlfriend, played by Jodie Foster), who ultimately suffer the consequences of her stubbornness. That refusal to submit to hagiographic impulses gives the film a documentary-like edge of truth, making the rousing moments here feel genuinely earned.

Genre: Drama, History

Actor: Anna Harriette Pittman, Anne Marie Kempf, Annette Bening, Belle Darling, Carolyn McCormick, Diana Nyad, Elizabeth Chahin, Ellen DeGeneres, Eric T. Miller, Erica Cho, Ethan Jones Romero, Garland Scott, Grace Subervi, Harraka Eliana, Iván Oleaga, Jeena Yi, Jodie Foster, John Bartlett, John F. Kennedy, Johnny Solo, Karly Rothenberg, Kate McKinnon, Katherine Klosterman, Lilo Grunwald, Luke Cosgrove, Marcus Young, Melissa R. Stubbs, Nadia Lorencz, Orpha Salimata, Pearl Darling, Rhys Ifans, Samantha Gordon, Sophia Hernandez, Stephen Schnetzer, Tisola Logan, Toussaint Merionne

Director: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin

Rating: PG-13

After working on Prime's TV series Verdict, Argentinian director Anahí Berneri has now made her Netflix debut with Elena Knows, a mother-daughter drama based on the book of the same name by famous novelist Claudia Piñeiro (International Booker Prize Shortlist). Berneri has not lost her arthouse touch, on the contrary, Elena Knows looks lush and minimal at the same time. With the use of shallow focus, the cinematography presents the world as an inhospitable place to the protagonist, Elena (Mercedes Morán, recently in Netflix's The Kingdom), whose advanced Parkinson's robs her of her agency, day after day. Very early on in the film, she loses her daughter and carer, Rita (Erica Rivas you might know from Wild Tales), and her absence leaves a gaping hole in the life of the grubby elderly woman. Berneri's newest film owns up to its investigative thriller elements as Elena insists her daughter has been murdered, but at its heart, it holds a paradox: that of maternal love and parental hatred. 

Genre: Drama

Actor: Agustina Muñoz, Erica Rivas, Marcos Montes, Mercedes Moran, Mercedes Scápola, Miranda de la Serna, Mónica Gonzaga, Susana Pampín

Director: Anahí Berneri