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Real Women Have Curves review

Real Women Have Curves
12Acertificate 12A
Running time: 90 minutes
Starring: America Ferrara, Lupe Ontiveros, George Lopez, Ingrid Oliu, Brian Sites
Rating 6 out of 10
In the same month that Kate Winslet allowed a well known men's magazine to digitally slim her front cover photograph (silly girl!), along comes Patricia Cardoso's feelgood tale about ignoring peer pressure and being true to yourself. It's a noble ideal, held firm by The Full Monty and other crowd-pleasing modern fables, and one which should strike a chord with modern audiences.

Mexican American teenager Ana (America Ferrara) lives with her overbearing mother Carmen (Lupe Ontiveros) and long-suffering father (George Lopez) in Los Angeles. The family is struggling to survive, and as much as Ana dreams of going off to college and getting an education, she realises that her parents will not be able to bear the cost. Moreover, they are too proud to let their daughter leave home for Columbia University on a scholarship. It's too much like charity. Instead, they tell Ana she must work alongside her big sis Estela (Ingrid Oliu) in a sweat-shop clothing factory, ironing dozens of intricately sewn dresses made to order for the big department stores.

The hours are long and the work hard and unrelenting, and Ana constantly clashes with her mother and sister, especially when she discovers the disparity between what the stores pay for the dresses and the final price tag.

Then a tender romance with classmate Jimmy (Brian Sites) makes Ana realise that life isn't quite so tough, and that her independence really is something worth fighting for. She also comes to realise that, contrary to her mother's endless sniping and insults, contentment does not depend on fitting into a Size 10.

Real Women Have Curves is a joyous celebration of women in all their voluptuous glory. Based on Josefina Lopez's play, the film is an unabashed crowd-pleaser, which laughs in the face of the idea that the only happy woman is a slim woman.

In the film's centre-piece sequence, Ana encourages her co-workers to strip off down to their underwear to keep cool in the steamy factory and to proudly display their curvaceous figures. Predictably, Carmen is the only one to abstain.

Ferrara delivers an affecting lead performance, constantly rebelling against her strict mother and ultimately discovering pride in herself. Ontiveros is formidable as the matriarch who wants her daughter to slim down and Lopez is delightful as the long-suffering father watching his family come apart at the seams.

Big is beautiful and don't you forget it.

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