Real Women Have Curves
4 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
real women have curves With its lively, funny and heartwarming ethnicity, this is almost a companion piece to My Big Fat Greek Wedding. But please don't use the words "big" or "fat", as this is about a family of overweight--and beautiful--Latina women in Los Angeles. At the centre is Ana (Ferrera), an extremely bright student on her last day at high school. But her mother (Ontiveros) has a serious chip on her shoulder, and demands that Ana takes a summer job in the dress factory run by her sister (Oliu), forgetting all this nonsense about going off to university ... even though she can probably get a full scholarship to Columbia. After years of criticism from her mother, Ana has serious self-esteem issues. But a school teacher (Lopez) and a boy from school (Sites) help her see herself for who she really is.

From the very beginning, filmmaker Cardoso sets a terrific tone, combining spirited characters with a realistic view of multi-cultural L.A. Ferrera and Ontiveros play their characters perfectly--funny and strong, and mercifully not the usual movie versions of the feuding mother and daughter. These are two women who don't understand each other ... and never will. The script cuts through this relationship brilliantly and with serious insight; no doubt cowriter Lopez was drawing on her own life when she wrote the play the film is based on. But even better is the way the characters hold us completely. This is a serious crowd-pleaser, thoroughly engaging and entertaining, frequently very funny in a real-life sort of way. We see ourselves on screen from all sorts of angles--Ana's confusion, her mother's stubbornness, the sister's helplessness, the grandfather's (De Alba) rebelliousness. It's simply a terrific little film that says quite a lot, actually, without ever being obvious about it.

cert 15 themes, language 25.Oct.02 lff

dir Patricia Cardoso
scr Josefina Lopez, George LaVoo
with America Ferrera, Lupe Ontiveros, Ingrid Oliu, Brian Sites, George Lopez, Jorge Cervera Jr, Soledad St Hilaire, Felipe De Alba, Jose Gerardo Zamora Jr, Edgar Lujan, Lina Acosta, Sandie Torres
release US 18.Oct.02; UK 31.Jan.03
02/US 1h30

Mirror mirror on the wall. Ana (Ferrera) finds it hard to believe that Jimmy (Sites) thinks she's beautiful...


WINNER: Audience Award, Sundance 2002

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... real women have curves "This film has one of the worst endings of any film I have ever seen. All the interesting issues, scenarios, relationships, etc, that are really well-developed during the film are just left dangling. All the film's good acting, storylines and worthwhile issues were chucked away by the filmmakers just bringing the film to a shuddering halt. It was like watching half a film." --Jo Caswell, West Sussex 22.Apr.03
2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall