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Real Women Have Curves (2002)

Real women take chances, have flaws, embrace life…

Directed by:

Patricia Cardoso

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 90 minutes

UK Certificate: 12

On DVD

Country: United States

America Ferrera stars as Ana, a first-generation Mexican-American teenager who is trying to come to terms with burgeoning womanhood and the challenges of making a future for herself while satisfying the more traditional demands of her family. A recent high-school graduate who has already impressed her teachers, she wants to apply for a scholarship to go away to study. Her very conservative parents feel that Ana should have two priorities: working in order to help her family, and finding a suitable husband. Under duress, she agrees to join her mother Carmen (Lupe Ontiveros) at work for the summer at a rundown dressmaking factory owned by her downtrodden sister Estela (Ingrid Oliu).

Ana is slightly overweight and her mother is always making an issue of this, pointing out that she should be thin in order to attract a man, and that only a married woman has the luxury of being fat. She believes that Ana has been spoiled by too much education and the independence offered to girls in America. However, Ana is really quite happy as she is, with her ambitions and her gringo boyfriend, and passes on her self-confidence to her sister and the hardworking women at the factory whom she has come to respect. When she receives a full scholarship to Columbia University in New York, she knows she will have to face up to her mother's hostility.

This fine charming comedy drama about being a modern woman in a traditional society is genuine and realistic. The plot is not new, but the execution is entirely fresh and energetic, and its characters are full of surprises. The casting is generally excellent, peopling the film with characters that look real including a fair number of wonderfully substantial women. Newcomer America Ferrera is a real find, pretty and expressive, and one can only hope that the Hollywood craze for skinny women doesn't prevent her getting the roles she deserves. Unpretentious and straightforward, this film makes rewarding watching.

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It's Got: Fresh and touching performances from the generally excellent cast.

It Needs: A slightly less clichéd plot.

DVD Extras Just a trailer with this basic single-disc release. DVD Extras Rating: 1/10

Alternatives:

I Like It Like That., My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Tortilla Soup

Summary

Outstandingly touching, funny and genuine story of women on the verge of discovering themselves. Proof that indy filmmakers can still produce cinematic gems.

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