A review of “Real Women Have Curves” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ** 1/2

Rating: PG-13 for language, mild sexuality

Run Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

 

 

This ode to the full-bodied woman is a feel-good valentine that has its heart in the right place. 

Self-confident and diet-free, eighteen-year old high-school grad Ana (America Ferrera) is torn between two worlds.  The independent values of a modern American woman (dreaming of a college education and a career), and the more traditional lifestyle of her mother and grandmother - based on marriage, keeping house, and raising children.

It’s an ages old tug-of-war as Ana tries to strike a happy balance. When production falls behind at her sister Estela’s (Ingrid Oliu) dress factory, Ana is forced into sweatshop labor for the summer.  While Ana sulkily toils over a blazing hot steam iron, her high school English teacher (George Lopez) continues to encourage her to submit a scholarship application to Columbia University.  Her parents disapprove, but Ana persists.

“Curves” has been billed as the next “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”.  It won the Dramatic Audience Award at Sundance, and has been received with open arms at festivals worldwide.  Its message is sound – respect me for how I think, not how I look.  PC stability notwithstanding, the film suffers from a simplistic narrative and a pat, fairy-tale, conclusion.

Ferrera knows her stuff – she’s a willful teen playing a willful teen.  Lupe Ontiveros, as Ana’s martyrish, tyrannical mother, plays it for laughs, though her barbs feel cruel and unrelenting.

Kudos to a film for showcasing “immigrant” vs. “American” values, a coming-of-age appeal, and some sassy, plus-size humor.  Give me a better script and an original concept, and I’ll consider joining the ranks of the converted.