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Real Women Have Curves (12A)



Review: Jack Foley | Rating: 2

THE temptation for men to rush to the cinema to see a film about real women’s curves will, no doubt, quickly diminish once they discover that the curves in question have little to do with the ‘perfect’ figure - but rather coming to terms with how you look, no matter how big or how small.

Yet to dismiss Patricia Cardoso’s debut feature as a mere chick flick would be somewhat remiss, as this jovial little movie is as humorous and warm-hearted as they come, despite its apparently limited appeal.

Newcomer, America Ferrara, stars as Ana, a curvaceous 18-year-old with a bright future ahead of her, who is forced to take a job at her sister’s dress-making factory by her over-bearing mother, Carmen (Lupe Ontiveros), because she refuses to pay for her college tuition.

Fed up and forced to work long hours in appalling conditions, Ana soon finds herself at odds with her co-workers, while constantly being put down by her mother for not being thin, but resolves to fight back - eventually winning their admiration and encouraging them to love every curve of their body and appreciate what makes them different from everyone else.

Screen International predicted that ‘women everywhere will respond with cheers’ once they see the film, while it also received the Sundance Film Festival 2002 Audience Award and the Special Jury Prize when it was featured last year. It is easy to see why.

Cardoso’s film - which began life as a one-set, five-woman play from author, Josefina Lopez - has a big heart and is packed with wry observations about the image-obsessed state of modern society. Yet while the jokes fly thick and fast, they seldom resort to the obvious and the film never becomes too preachy, shying away from the type of gloopy sentiment which dogs so many of Hollywood’s more expensive message movies.

And in Ferrara and Ontiveros, it also boasts a couple of immensely absorbing lead performances, the type of which make it easy for audiences to care about what happens.

The relationship between mother and daughter is very well played, flitting between love and hate, and acceptance and denial, with ease. Where Ferrara is feisty and outspoken, Ontiveros is bitter and defeated and the two provide a volatile double act, which tip-toes a think line between love and hate.

Ontiveros is certain to test the audiences patience with her moaning/scheming/domineering turn, while Ferrara is simply terrific as the put-upon Ana, whose dream of making it to New York and providing a better life for herself is something she refuses to let go of.

Real Women Have Curves may, ultimately, appeal to female audiences more than males, but it’s charm is such that everyone can enjoy it - even though the site of some fairly big women stripping down to their skimpies for the movie’s finale may have most men running from the auditorium in search of the latest copy of Maxim or FHM!

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