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This is the story of Ana, a first generation Mexican-American teenager on the verge of becoming a woman. She lives in the predominately Latino community of East Los Angeles. Freshly graduated from high school, Ana receives a full scholarship to Columbia University. Her very traditional, old-world parents feel that now is the time for Ana to help provide for the family, not the time for college. Torn between her mainstream ambitions and her cultural heritage she agrees to work with her mother at her sister's downtown LA sewing factory. Over the summer she learns to admire the hardworking team of women who teach her solidarity and teamwork. Still at odds with what her mother expects of her, Ana realizes that leaving home to continue her education is essential to finding her place proudly in the world as an American and Chicana. Written by
It is a hymn to a culture that values family and a girl who values herself.
How could I be so blessed with 2 Mexican treasures within weeks of each other? After the heady romanticism and visual artistry of Julie Taymor's `Frida,' I was hardly prepared to see another arresting, Mexican melodrama, Patricia Cardoso's `Real Women Have Curves.' Every woman who thinks about her weight should see this movie-it will make you a convert to the humane notion that all bodies are beautiful. And it will reveal a deeply humane culture at the same time.
Naturally beautiful and full-bodied actress America Ferrera plays Ana, a Mexican American whose graduation and scholarship to Columbia University threaten the family's unity and the control by her mother, who tells stories of runaway girls with disastrous ends and the admonition, `That's what happens to girls who don't listen to their mothers.'
Like teenagers in any culture, Ana is trying to break away from a domineering culture and mother while she also achieves a balanced acceptance of her zaftig body. The scene where she and the other seamstresses in her sister's sweat shop remove their outer clothes to escape the heat and eventually admire their bulging, stretch-marked bodies is about as loving and lyrical as any other I have seen where Hollywood's obsession with world-class beauty is obliterated by the sheer attractiveness of women celebrating the imperfections of their bodies.
Equally so, when Ana loses her virginity, she tells her lover,
"Turn the lights on. I want you to see me. See, this is what I look like." He responds, "You're not fat. You're beautiful.' It's easy to see why this film won awards at Cannes for audience appreciation and ensemble acting. It is a hymn to a culture that values family and a girl who values herself.
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