Neil Young’s Film Lounge – Real Women Have Curves



USA 2002 : Patricia Cardoso : 90 mins

Inspirational teen chick-flick: bright working-class Los Angeles Latina girl Ana (America Ferrera) torn between between personal self-realisation (i.e. having sex with her middle-class non-Latino boyfriend Jimmy [Brian Sites] and/or going to college in distant New York) and family responsibility: pleasing her extremely difficult mother (Lupe Ontiveros) and/or helping out her put-upon  ‘wallflower ’ older sister Estela (Ingrid Oliu) who owns a small garment factory. Learning how little the fancy department stores pay Estela for her clothes, Ana denounces the factory as a  ‘sweatshop ’  – a description which comes literally true during a heatwave: Estela can ’t deploy fans for fear of blowing dust on the dresses, so instead Ana leads her co-workers in a mass strip.

Mostly conforms to expectations (sunny tone means upbeat finale never in much doubt), but makes a few telling and effective deviations: 1) ending isn ’t quite what we expect – no reconciliation scene with either boyfriend or mother. 2) Girl-power title never mentioned, thankfully, even during that daft  ‘sisters are doing it for themselves ’ stripping sequence in which feelgood elements unhelpfully swamp the powerful economic aspects to the factory angle. 3) Teenage high-schoolers Ana and Jimmy are shown having and enjoying (safe) sex with no dire consequences. Well-acted by Ferrera, Oliu and Ontiveros, with Cardoso doing unfussy job of handling George LaVoo and Josefina Lopez ’s script (based on her play). Nothing much wrong with it, but rather tame stuff alongside, say, Girlfight.

24th October, 2003
(seen 28th September : Multicines, Bilbao)

by Neil Young