If there were any justice in the movie world, Real Women Have Curves would be raking in the bucks and not the film it has been compared to, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Patricia Cardoso’s bittersweet coming-of-age comedy set in a high-strung Los Angeles Latino family has it all over Wedding’s made-for-TV platitudes and cheap laughs.
That said, it’s far from a masterpiece, simply a touching, funny, authentic portrait of real people in a real place. Ana (America Ferrera) is about to graduate from high school with high honors, and she wants to go to a nice college — say, Columbia. Her old-fashioned mother (Lupe Ontiveros) disapproves, and she keeps putting Ana down because of her weight. In short, though Mama says she wants to keep the family together, she really envies her daughter and wants to squash Ana’s opportunities to escape her own fate.
So it appears that Ana’s future will begin and end in the sweat shop run by her earnest, oppressed, and equally overweight sister (a scene in which the curvaceous women laboring at sewing machines strip down will undoubtedly be a highlight of Real Women Have Curves: The Musical.) The real curve in Real Women is its perhaps unintentional misogyny: all the obstacles in Ana’s path to liberation, from Mama to her sister’s cutthroat, hoity-toity client, are women. Fortunately, there are fiery and finessed performances from Ferrera and Ontiveros to smooth out the rough edges. (90 minutes)