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Klaus Maria Brandauer
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
I was very impressed with this movie. First of all, it's very funny. It's definitely a feel-good movie, but at the same time doesn't resort to campy sentimentality. It's also a film that escapes from the stereotypes and depicts Latinos like they're meant to be depicted. One realistic touch that I appreciated was that half the time the characters would speak Spanish and the other half they'd speak English. That is how it seems to be in most Latin-American families. You rarely hear English spoken 100 percent of the time, unless both the parents and children are from the states. The director didn't worry if American audiences would be too lazy to read the subtitles. What's the big deal about reading subtitles? I'm taking a class in International Film, so I always cringe at the fact that when I tell other students about the class, their immediate reactions are, "God, you gotta read subtitles?" I'm proud to be an American, but at times like that my pride gradually lessens.
It's about time a film is released in which the main character is not only female, but a slightly overweight female. Because, and those hypnotized by the media be prepared to gasp, not all women are a size 3! Who's to say that a woman can't be pretty while having a few extra pounds? I think America Ferrera is a very pretty girl, not to mention she has charm. In everyday society, there are overweight guys and girls who have dating lives! In this film, her eventual love interest is a skinny white guy. That's not unusual. Unfortunately, media possesses us into assuming that the only types of relationships involve pretty guys and pretty girls. I'm sure even in California that isn't always the truth, despite its reputation for being Land of the Beautiful People.
I like how the film depicts the girl's mom and her hypocritical attitudes towards her daughter's obesity. Throughout the film, I never understood why her much more overweight mother was criticizing her daughter for being a big fat pig. But this happens in real life! Later in the film, the mother even says, "I'm married. I have the right to be fat." Parents can have those attitudes, unfortunately. And like in the film, they don't hesitate to humiliate their sons and daughters in public for having a certain problem like obesity.
The acting is topnotch. Lupe Ontiveros doesn't always receive decent roles in American film, and it's because of that many American audiences aren't familiar with her. That's too bad, because she's really a terrific actress and in "Real Women" I finally did get a chance to see her in a decent role. The ironic thing is she's often cast as Hispanic characters (usually maids) who have just came to this country, yet she was born in the states and hardly has an accent. Newcomer Ferrera is also incredible, and I hope to see her in future projects. She really has much potential, and if Hollywood studios decide to remove their heads from their behinds and cast men and women who aren't less than 120 pounds (in roles other than the "fat slob") she'll become a rising star. Finally, I was genuinely impressed with George Lopez, who actually plays a serious role, never once drifting into comic territory. It's rare to find a comedian who has just as much talent at acting as being funny, so it's nice to discover that George may be one of those people.
If you want to see a good, solid, entertaining low-budget indie gem that'll make you think and make you laugh, then this is definitely the film for you! It's one of the most original films I've seen come out in a while.
My score: 8 (out of 10)
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