Reviewer's Rating 4 out of 5  
Real Women Have Curves (2003)
12

"Turn the lights on, I want you to see me" says Ana (America Ferrera), the real woman at the centre of this coming-of-age tale, as she stands naked in front of her boyfriend. Love handles, curves and all, she is - you guessed it - as gorgeous outside as she is inside. But that's not all.

With its cheesily empowering title, "Real Women Have Curves" may sound like a fable for fat women who nonetheless have great personalities. But it has a much wider appeal as a charming and funny story of clashing cultures and a clashing mother/daughter relationship.

Having just graduated from high school with grades good enough for a scholarship to Columbia University, Ana is forced into a job at the family dressmaking factory by her overbearing mother Carmen (Lupe Ontiveros), who is also less accepting of Ana's curvaceous looks.

As sparky as her mother is demanding, Ana refuses to be ashamed of her shape. She slowly resigns herself to the fact her mother believes going away to university means needlessly breaking up the family.

You can probably guess what's going to happen over the course of the story, but the real pleasure in "Curves" is in the pointed humour and spirited characters that populate the film. And most notably, two superb performances from Ontiveros and newcomer Ferrera.

Natural in front of the camera, with an expressive face and comic timing, Ferrera is everything youre average high school bimbo is not. Ontiveros is equally as bright and individual, and together they create an absorbing dynamic.

An unashamed crowd-pleaser, "Real Women" does feel contrived at times, but the sheer vibrancy of its leading ladies will win through every time. If curviness equals this much fun, make mine a fry-up.

End Credits

Director: Patricia Cardoso

Writer: George LaVoo, Josefina Lopez

Stars: America Ferrera, Lupe Ontiveros, Ingrid Oliu, George Lopez, Brian Sites, Soledad St Hilaire

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Length: 86 minutes

Cinema: 31 January 2003

Country: USA

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