Directed by Lucia Puenzo, “Dive” deals with the complexities that women in sports encounter and how they are forced to maintain silence to achieve fame. Mariel Saenz won an Olympic bronze medal for diving at the age of 15. She had been trying to win a tournament since then, but always at the last moment, she would lose confidence and deliver a mediocre performance. Her family would often gather to watch and celebrate her Olympic win, even though it had been a long time since then. Mariel knew that she needed to prove herself once again, but as luck would have it, her partner in the synchronized dive injured herself before the qualification round. Mariel now had to coordinate with a fourteen-year-old, Nadia. She did not believe in the little girl’s dedication. She knew that no matter how good she was, she would not have the hunger and desperation that Mariel now experienced. Meeting Nadia would be a revelation for Mariel—an encounter she would have preferred to avoid, but at the same time, it was necessary.
‘Dive’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
Mariel had dedicated her life to her sport. She practiced relentlessly, and her injuries attested to it. She did not know who she was aside from being the Olympian diver who won bronze at the age of 15. She was supposed to become the pathbreaking celebrity diver, but she barely qualifies for the tournaments now. No matter how hard she tried, something messed up her guaranteed win. She knew that as she got older, her agility would be affected; she was already 30 and only had this year to make it or break it. She was running out of time and needed one win before her career came to an end.
Her coach, Braulio, introduced her to Nadia, a young, talented diver. He believed she would be able to compete in the synchronized diving category. Braulio had been training Mariel from a young age; he was close to her and her family. She found Braulio’s confidence in Nadia a little disturbing. Nadia had been barely trained for one year, and she believed Braulio was pairing her with Nadia so that she could gain her first experience at a big tournament. Even when Mariel exclaimed that she would not participate if she had to pair with Nadia, Braulio did not care. Mariel realized that she was replaceable, she used to be Braulio’s only hope at one point in time, but now he clearly had shifted his trust and expectation onto Nadia. Braulio tried to establish that he continued to trust Mariel, and she could never really doubt the man who helped her become who she was. Mariel’s sexual life was a mess; she would hook up with random people and end up getting infections. She preferred relationships that were nondemanding and making out with strangers was her way of keeping emotions away.
Just when Mariel had accepted that she had to pair up with Nadia, Braulio was suspended from his job at the Olympic Center. He was accused of sexual abuse by Nadia’s parents. Braulio denied all allegations; he believed Nadia’s mother, Irene, was seeking revenge for taking her daughter away from her. He had a special bond with every kid that he trained because they lived away from their parents, and he believed it was his responsibility to look after them. Mariel’s family supports Braulio unconditionally; they do not trust a word against him. Braulio was in tears, and he added that he, too, had a daughter and that such accusations could hamper his personal life as well. Mariel stood in support of Braulio; she believed he was the best man she had known all her life, and she could testify about her experience with him to the Federation.
How Did Mariel Find Out The Truth About Braulio?
Mariel visited Nadia’s mother, who discussed how Mariel was Nadia’s biggest inspiration for becoming a diver. Her mother had always known how desperate her daughter was to grow up, become an adult, and become independent, but there was one day when she looked at her and realized that she had lost the innocence that every child possessed. She could see that Nadia carried an emptiness within her. Mariel sympathized with how Irene felt, but she did not believe that her coach could do that to Nadia. She advocated for Braulio’s character, saying that as a coach, he had to get into close proximity with his students, and maybe it was Irene who assumed that to be more than a teacher-student relationship. Mariel added that Irene’s step could ruin her daughter’s career and also that of Braulio. Irene asked Mariel if she ever felt uncomfortable with Braulio, and Mariel stated that when no one else cared about her, Braulio saw her potential. Without his support and help, she would be just a broken person. Mariel tried to persuade Irene not to destroy Braulio’s career out of a misunderstanding. She spoke to Irene not just because she cared about Braulio but also because she could not give up on her dream. Without Nadia, she would lose her chance to compete at the Olympics. And without Braulio, she would be clueless about the next step. She failed to comprehend the weight of the situation; she believed both she and Nadia would be left without a guardian if they let go of Braulio. They needed him as much as he needed them, and no one else could understand their relationship.
At the training center, Nadia apologized to Braulio for what had unfolded. She never wanted her mother to complain, but Braulio refused to listen to her. He was soon escorted out of place. Nadia blamed herself for all that was going on. She confessed to Mariel that she kept a diary and that her mother read it. She stated that whatever she wrote was insignificant and not meant for anyone else to read, but now it had ruined her life. At the trial, none of the victims turned up, whereas Braulio had brought all his prominent students to testify for his character. Nadia spoke to the room. She stated that her mother was making false allegations because she wanted her to move in with her grandparents. She believed her mother was simply envious of her life and wanted to take it all away from her. The judges concluded that it was a family matter that should be resolved at home. Braulio’s suspension was lifted, and he was welcomed back to train his students.
While traveling to their stay at the FINA Cup, Mariel noticed that Nadia and Braulio shared a close relationship. Braulio made excuses to touch Nadia, and Mariel wondered if Irene had been right all along. While Mariel wanted to rest and only focus on the tournament, Nadia partied with the rest of the team. She even went late at night to take Nadia back to her room, but Braulio told her to let Nadia enjoy herself because it was her first time attending such an event. Suddenly, Mariel was reminded of her younger self locked in a washroom. She stepped out of the bathroom and found Nadia sleeping in her bed. Nadia stayed aloof the next morning, and Mariel realized that something was going on. Mariel could not focus during the qualification round and delivered an average performance. She was qualified, but Braulio was disappointed with her performance. He insulted her, ridiculed her sexual life, and stated that she performed poorly only because she was jealous of Nadia. He added how the Federation wanted to get rid of her and how he spoke on behalf of her and asked them to give her another chance and pair her with Nadia. Mariel frantically began to apologize and beg for his forgiveness. Braulio asked her to freshen up in his bathroom, and she entered to find Nadia’s top there. She now knew what she had assumed was indeed the truth. She stole Nadia’s diary from her bag and started to read the details that reminded her of her past.
‘Dive’ Ending Explained: How Did Mariel Help Nadia? Why Did She Run Away From The Tournament?
Nadia’s diary described how Braulio approached her and groomed her. She wrote about every sexual advance he made. She often wanted to scream, but he made her believe that he was her future and that only he could help her achieve what she desperately wanted to. Mariel dropped the diary into the pool out of disgust, but she immediately dove in and brought it back. She knew how important the diary was as a piece of evidence. Mariel was caught with a fever. She had repressed her trauma all these years, but after reading Nadia’s account, she remembered how Braulio exploited her when she was young. The memories were still fresh; she could still feel how uncomfortable he made her feel, yet she was too young to understand how wrong his advances were. She remembered that he had made false promises to her as well. Braulio was a pedophile, and no one dared speak against him, knowing the power he held and the shame that would be brought upon the victim upon filing a complaint. After recovering from a fever, Mariel started to notice how Braulio made excuses to touch Nadia. And even though she tried to raise her voice against him, she failed to speak about what he had done to her, to Nadia, and to several other young girls.
She went home that day and spoke about the abuse for the first time. She played the Olympics video and told her mother exactly what Braulio told her during the tournament. Her mother was supposed to protect her, but she never realized what her daughter was facing. Instead, her family became friends with Braulio and his family, making it all the more difficult for Mariel to ever think of how problematic Braulio was. She was too young to understand the situation, and sadly, she had no one to discuss her experience with. The next day, after practice, Mariel confronted Nadia about Braulio. She mentioned that she knew everything that he had done to her and how she, too, had gone through the same abuse, but Nadia refused to listen to her. While Mariel didn’t want Nadia to have to go through this alone, Nadia believed she wasn’t a little girl and that what Braulio told her was the truth. Mariel knew what they shared; she knew it because he said the same things to her as well. He had asked her not to speak about their relationship because the world would never understand what they shared. Nadia believed that Mariel was jealous of her, which is why she wanted to make her believe that what she shared with Braulio was not real. He promised to marry Nadia after returning from Greece; he would leave his wife to be with her. Mariel realized that Nadia was completely swayed by Braulio, and no matter what Mariel said, she would not believe her.
Even after knowing what Braulio did to Mariel, her mother wanted her to apologize to him before the press conference began. It seemed that Nadia told him about Mariel, and he wanted to meet her to sort out the problem. Braulio tried to gain sympathy from Mariel; he was in tears, blaming himself for being a monster and expressing how he had always loved Mariel. She asked him to take his hands off her; she did not care about his lies anymore and wanted him to stay away from her. She threatened to tell the truth if he dared to get close to Nadia. Before leaving for Greece to attend the Olympic finals, she mailed the diary to Irene to help her take the necessary actions against Braulio. She refrained from diving in the final tournament. By not diving, Mariel taught Nadia that there were other options as well. She wanted Nadia to believe that she did not have to take part in the mess. She could run away from the abuse as well. Meeting Nadia helped Mariel realize that she was living a nightmare. At thirty, she dared to run away from her last Olympic tournament.
She ran to the sea. Unlike the swimming pool in the tournament, the sea denoted freedom to her. The sea had no rules; it had no end. Mariel, too, had her entire life ahead of her, with endless possibilities. She had no reason to believe that she was nothing more than her profession and that without a medal, her life would be meaningless. Even though Mariel did not win a medal that day, she felt a sense of achievement by showing a teenager a better path. She chose to be the example that she wished she had in life. “Dive” effectively narrates the story of Mariel and Nadia and how an unexpected bond was born out of shared trauma. The close-up shot of Mariel when she chose not to dive beautifully captured the nervousness and pride she experienced at that moment.
“Dive” is a 2022 Drama Sports film directed by Lucia Puenzo.