Indie movie runs home with critic’s acclaim
Get your sneakers ready! “Brittany Runs a Marathon” is an inspiring new comedy written and directed by Paul Downs Colaizzo. The story follows Brittany (Jillian Bell) — a lazy, alcoholic, misguided couch potato and her journey to change her life by participating in the New York Marathon. Both heartfelt and hilarious, Colaizzo assembles a slew of well-rounded, complex characters that shame traditional, one-dimensional comedic stereotypes of years past. Through her new running mates, an unlikely roommate and the disposal of a selfish, long-time friend, Brittany’s new crew aids her in her journey towards self appreciation as she struggles to completely alter her way of life.
Jillian Bell owns the role of Brittany as she traverses her character’s dry comedic wit and honest dramatic sentiments with great ease and maximum emotional impact. Immediately, you fall in love with Brittany as a character. She displays a joyful, sarcastic personality to liven up her day at the workplace. However, just as quickly, she breaks your heart when partaking in alcohol and drug use that, unfortunately, has become too routine. Jillian Bell completely endears the audience to Brittany’s struggle by examining her character’s fractured sense of self respect and emotional insecurities through a truly transformative performance.
Similar to her character, Jillian Bell lost 40 pounds throughout the course of production; however, the film delves deeper into the emotional mindset of the character beyond Brittany’s weight and irresponsible habits. Much of the film’s criticisms of Brittany suggest that the community she shelters herself within is the root of all her pain. Many of Brittany’s friends think of her only as an extension of their own personalities. The only solace they provide for Brittany is slight appreciation whenever Brittany promotes their social media platforms. No trust exists in Brittany’s life beyond shallow relationships that only serve to provide a false sense of security. It is over the course of the film that Brittany reevaluates her personal ambitions, social relationships, life choices and emotional frame of mind to better herself in a truly spectacular way.
One of the central themes of the movie relates to Brittany’s need to lose weight. At first glance, I feared that Brittany’s motivation to become healthier was solely based on her physical image. I was disturbed by some early scenes in which Brittany glumly looks at herself in a mirror and was self-critical of her appearance, I thought to myself to myself that the movie was sending the wrong message. However, part of the beauty of this story is how it organically engages Brittany’s perspective of her body. Honest, ashamed and genuine, the film examines Brittany’s warped view of herself despite how wrong and distant it is from the truth. She half-heartedly acknowledges certain progressive ideas that current society values, such as, “beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.” However, it is clear that her opinion of those ideas do not stretch beyond lip service. Brittany even mentions this sentiment during a conversation with her doctor in an early scene, but her delivery is so passive and drole that the viewer hardly believes it. Once Brittany starts running and thinking positively about her self-image ,she begins to build new relationships and opportunities that allow her to believe in herself again. It is not the physical weight loss that improves her life, nor the insane task of completing the New York marathon, but the ambitions she solidly upholds and the choices she makes that have positive long term impacts for herself and the people around her.
Equally as awesome as the portrayal and central themes surrounding Brittany and her story are the supporting characters who do not fall prey to Jillian Bell’s excellent comedic timing. Collazio’s brilliant script expertly duel-wields the depths of Brittany’s community and the emotional roller coaster of Brittany’s arc. The characters in “Brittany Runs a Marathon” are realistic in how their personal issues reflect and impact modern millennial America. Whether it be struggling with a divorce, earning the adoration of a loved one or feeling uncertain about one’s future prospects, they naturally fit in with our society, despite being players in a one-off, Hollywood comedy. Brittany’s new friends brilliantly reflect the experiences of Brittany as their struggles are similar to hers, making their relationships honest and bonded through trust.
In regards to criticisms that I have about the movie, the camera work is a bit underwhelming and amateurish. Most scenes are shot using a hand-held method, which makes the shoot quick, easy and less technically tedious. However, the resulting effect is that many of the shots are uninteresting as the camera simply records the scene rather than attempt to convey complex ideas through its lens. The final scene is especially powerful and inspiring — not to mention cool, being they were allowed to film at the real New York marathon — but the camera hardly uses its medium to exaggerate the intensity of the moment beyond the rudimentary basics. The cinematography, acting, production and costume design are quite strong throughout, but the underused camera medium undersells the brilliance of the film and its terrific story.
Fueled by passion and authenticity, “Brittany Runs a Marathon” is a crowd-pleaser that blows away the competition and jolts the audience with a desire to be better versions of themselves. It is an intense, yet light-hearted character study that stays true to its words. It clearly draws lines between what it believes in and what it views as harmful to society. The characters are authentic, rich and organically flow into the framework of a story making the film truly unique and intimate. “Brittany Runs a Marathon” is in theaters now, and it will become available on Amazon Prime towards the end of 2019.