REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES
Ana (America Ferrera) is 18, overweight, disenchanted and about to graduate from
high school. She quits her casual job as a burger flipper, much to the annoyance
of her traditional Mexican family living modestly in East Los Angeles. Her
mother, Carmen (Lupe Ontiveros) expects Ana to work at the family sweatshop
making up dresses for a manufacturer, with her older sister Estela (Ingrid Oliu).
Ana reluctantly helps out, but her aspirations come alive when on the urging of
her English teacher she is accepted with a scholarship at Columbia University
– in New York. Ana’s family refuses to let her go, but just as she lost her
virginity under her own control, Ana is determined to live life her way.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Real Women Have Curves – and they can be BIG curves. They also have brains and
some men find them sexy. In one scene, the women in the sweatshop take off their outer garments and compare cellulite in what becomes a celebration of fat womanhood. Not only is it all right to be overweight, it’s positively robust. I doubt that this one film will undo the self-image damage perpetrated by a million women’s magazine covers of ultra thin women, but it’s a start.
It’s also a sweet and innocent film with a big heart, and while it lacks the dizzying elements of great cinema, it is engaging and warm. The story combines elements of coming of age and defying a stereotype, but if the subject matter is unoriginal, the script and the setting are fresh. There is the sting of truth in most scenes, and compelling performances from a great cast to flesh out the themes (pardon the pun). America Ferrera is the key to the film’s dramatic power, and she is as effective as was Michelle Rodriguez in Girlfight.
The cultural issues are teased out without sentimentality and Lupe Ontiveros delivers a complex and readily accessible mother whose good intentions are peppered with selfishness and possessiveness. She is not a sympathetic character, and that’s to the film’s credit. (Both actresses have rightly won awards for their performances here.) Patricia Cardoso has clearly connected with Josefina Lopez’ work (originally a stage play based on her own experiences) and found something to say without making it either a feminist or a fatty tract.
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REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES (M15+)
CAST: Lupe Ontiveros, America Ferrera, Ingrid Oliu,
PRODUCER: Effie Brown, George LaVoo
DIRECTOR: Patricia Cardoso
SCRIPT: Josefina Lopez, George LaVoo
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jim Denault
EDITOR: Sloane Klevin
MUSIC: Heitor Pereira
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Brigitte Broch
RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Rialto
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Melbourne: April 10, 2003; Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, ACT: April 13, 2003; Brisbane: tbc