21st Century. The era during which size zero has become the norm and during which every follower on Twitter and Instagram counts. What happens if you’re not social media savvy or what if you prefer a juicy cheeseburger over a tasteless salad?
Then society labels you as “odd”, “crazy” or even worse “fat”. That’s exactly what the film debut of writer/director Paul Downs Colaizzo is about. His “Brittany Runs a Marathon” definitely has some flaws but it’s still very beautiful.
Brittany (Jillian Bell) is a 28-year-old woman and lives in New York with her glamorous flatmate Gretchen (Alice Lee). She works at her local theatre as an usher but no one seems to appreciate it. Despite having moments of doubt about herself and her career, Brittany is living her life. From partying with friends to eating and drinking what her belly craves.
However, her life is about to change drastically after a doctor’s visit but not in the way you think. All she wants is medication but instead, she gets weight loss advice. Sadly, Brittany’s neighbour Catherine (Michaela Watkins) gives her the exact same advice as the doctor.
After being pressured by them and the rest of society, Brittany decides that it’s finally time to put her running shoes on for the very first time. She starts with tons of motivation but that “it’s just one block” seems to be harder than she expected.
However, she’s getting help from an unexpected person, Catherine. She’s challenging Brittany to join her running group and while Brittany has her doubts about that, she does it.
Being the slowest of the group is never a good sign but at least it’s the perfect opportunity to meet people who are on the same level. It seems that life is getting better for Brittany. Her body changes little by little, her circle of friends is expanding and she finally has a goal in her life. She wants to run the New York City Marathon together with Catherine and her running buddy Seth (Micah Stock).
Her world of partying, unhealthy eating and just living her life is making room for one full of fruit and vegetables. While Brittany is making progress, she’s still insecure about who she is and who she’s becoming.
When her preparations for the marathon come to an unexpected stop, her future doesn’t look bright at all. How will Brittany cope with this? Will she turn back to the cookies, ice-cream and her cough or will she stay motivated and reach the finish line?
“Brittany Runs a Marathon” sadly lacks a little bit of originality when it comes to the storyline. An overweight woman (not sure if we agree with society when it comes to her weight) who’s told by her surroundings that she has to lose weight.
We see both the ups and downs and also the stereotypical characters such as the gorgeous housemate and the gay friend turn up as well. Secondly, there’s also the element of the uninteresting cinematography.
A lot is going on in Brittany’s life, of which most of it is exciting, but that’s excitement isn’t visible in the cinematography. However, that being said, the film does have a lot of wonderful things to offer.
Whether it was the intended message or not, this movie shows us a lot about the diet culture and the need to fit in society’s terms. Why? Just for the sake of opinions of others. Not being size 0? You probably hear sentences such as “maybe you should hit the gym”, “eat healthier” and “if you don’t change you’ll always be fat” every day.
This definitely changes our perception about how we see ourselves. Seeing what impact this has on the leading character in “Brittany Runs a Marathon” is a real eye opener. Pretty sure that we’re not the only ones who recognize some aspects of ourselves in Brittany.
Another element that makes from “Brittany Runs a Marathon” such a joy to watch is the on-screen chemistry. You know her from her hilarious performances in “Office Christmas Party” and “22 Jump Street”.
Jillian Bell shows us her funny and charismatic side, we can now also see her in a more serious, gripping and emotional role and it’s one that suits her very well. Bell perfectly knows how to balance the many different characteristics of Brittany. From the bubbly and full of life “overweight” woman to the bitter and even more insecure woman made by society.
Catherine seems to have it all: A nice apartment and a good-looking body. However, deep down there’s more insecurity than we think. Thanks to Michaela Watkins (“Under the Eiffel Tower”, “Ibiza”) her beautifully acting we can feel the doubts and loneliness but love and sympathy.
Micah Stock (“Life Itself”, “Newly Single”) his character is the biggest cliché in this movie but he still brings Seth to life with a fun and delightful performance. The characters really make you realize that you can’t judge a book by its cover.
There are definitely some flaws in “Brittany Runs a Marathon” such as the predictable storyline and the unoriginal characters. However, just like in real life, you have to see past those to see something wonderful. This latest work of Colaizzo is no different as it turns out to be a beautifully performed film that includes some very important social issues
1st November 2019
Paul Downs Colaizzo
Paul Downs Colaizzo
THE QUICK SELL
A young woman decides to make positive changes in her life by training for the New York City Marathon.