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Comedian and former Saturday Night Live writer Jillian Bell has been scene-stealingly hilarious in supporting roles for quite a while (22 Jump Street, Rough Night). Now here’s a movie that could make her a star. Paul Downs Colaizzo’s New York-set indie comedy gives Bell the platform for a lovely authentic performance as a woman who takes up running to lose weight and get fit. It’s a film with charm and sweetness but a twinge of anxiety, a little gravitational pull to darker places.
Bell is Brittany, a 28-year-old with issues recognisable from Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck: binge-drinking, picking up the wrong guys, generally failing to sort out her life. When she tries to wheedle prescription drugs out of her GP, he instead warns that her BMI is in the obese range. “You totally missed the point of those Dove ads,” she quips.
Anyone who’s ever pulled out a pair of saggy tracksuit bottoms from the back of the wardrobe for a tentative run will wince in recognition at Brittany’s first attempt to reach the end of the block. But she sticks with it – and the movie twists in ways that make it feel fairly honest and emotionally complex, if a bit fussy plot-wise.
Brittany’s new sense of purpose threatens her friendship with her super-skinny roommate, who, as Brittany points out, enjoys having a funny fat sidekick. There’s also a painful scene in which Brittany fat-shames another woman and realises how much she has internalised years of unkind comments.
Brittany Runs a Marathon is very funny in places. And writer-director Colaizzo – who based the script on his real-life best friend – deserves credit for not sprinting to a thin-equals-happy ending. But the film doesn’t quite hold its nerve; it goes a bit conventional romcom at the end. Still, that doesn’t stop it being properly enjoyable. Take the scene where a woman turns Brittany down for job looking after her kids: “You have a great personality but we’re looking for a nanny who’ll fade into the background.” As for Bell, she proves herself a natural film star.
• Brittany Runs a Marathon is released in Australia on 31 October and in the UK on 1 November.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Brittany Runs a Marathon review – on the funny road to fitness | Comedy films