Real Women Have Curves

Movie Review by Neils Hesse

Starring: America Ferrera, Michelle Moretti, Lupe Ontiveros, Ingrid Oliu, George Lopez

Director: Patricia Cardoso

Ana (America Ferrera) is a promising young girl who has just graduated from high school. She wants to go to college but is forced by her mother, Carmen (Lupe Ontiveros), to go and work for her sister Estela (Ingrids Oliu) in a clothes factory/sweat shop. Carmen thinks that this type of work is the best form of education for Ana, because that is all she has ever known, but Ana’s father is much more understanding and by contrast doesn’t discourage his daughter’s dreams.

As they work at the clothes shop Carmen is constantly complaining to her daughters about how fat they are, which compels Ana to stand up and defend herself, Estela and all the other curvaceous women they work with by telling her mother that “real women have curves” and that they are proud of their bodies. When one of Ana’s teachers calls on her at home with the news that she has won a scholarship to go to university, Ana is initially very excited, but then she is quickly disappointed as her mother refuses point blank to entertain the whole idea. Initially her father had taken a back seat to avoid the confrontation of coming between mother and daughter but he puts his foot down not wishing Ana to miss this opportunity and sends his daughter off to university. Carmen must now decide to either relent and give her blessing or remain stubborn to the end.

America Ferrera makes a stunning debut as a typical teenage American girl, facing serious emotional obstacles that hinder her future, while Lupe Ontiveros convincingly portrays the stubborn but genuine mother who is very set in her ways and they both won the Special Jury Prize for Acting at the Sundance Film Festival 2002. Patricia Cardoso’s directing though steady could have been better but the music by Heitor Pereira perfectly compliments the whole aura projected by the film.

A good coming of age movie.

3 out of 6 stars

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