Movie reviews

Real Women Have Curves

It’s not often that Hollywood gives us a film that presents working-class folk as real people dealing with the realities of life – in this case a Mexican-American family in Los Angeles. Real Women Have Curves is a delightful comedy with respect for its participants, not ridicule, and with more than one interwoven theme.

Ana is about to graduate from high school. Her English teacher, Mr. Guzman, is trying very hard to encourage her to go to college. Her traditional and controlling mother wants her to go to work in the dressmaking shop managed by Ana’s older sister. Her father, a gardener, is more supportive of Ana’s aspirations for something else. Along the way we see Ana’s developing independence, the class conflict between the dressmaking shop and the firm for which it works under contract, and the growth of solidarity among the workers in the shop – as workers and as women. Ana’s insight helps the other women in the shop develop a recognition of themselves as women to be valued for who they are as individuals and not for their bodies. And, the women begin to appreciate their bodies in the same way that the insightful Ana appreciates hers. And Ana also gets a full scholarship to Columbia University.

See this one and enjoy it.

Far From Heaven

A very affluent white neighborhood in 1957. A stereotypical ‘successful’ family: the father a high corporate executive, the mother a busy society lady, though with some liberal inclinations that soon begin to set her apart from her peers. Little by little, it all starts to come unraveled, as realities that are not supposed to exist in that kind of social setting begin to assert themselves.

The father, it turns out, is gay. Then, enter a widowed African-American gardening contractor. A friendship develops (with some patronizing on her part) between gardener and society mother, and the racism of the ‘proper’ people (including her ‘best friend’) comes fully open. Compared to many of today’s films, the gardener’s character is well-developed and remarkably free of stereotypes. Interestingly, the film industry does not seem to be as ill at ease with confronting racism in another era as it is with recognizing present-day racism.

Far From Heaven is a good look at upper-class hypocrisy, well acted and worth seeing.

– Louise Paul and John Morris (