Eighteen-year-old Ana Garcia (America Ferrera) graduates from high school and goes to work at her sister’s factory (read: sweatshop), where she irons $18 dresses that Bloomingdales is going to sell to rich white women for $600. Equally inflated is her mother Carmen (Lupe Ontiveros), whose flair for the dramatic provokes all sorts of family tensions. Ana gets a free ride from Columbia University but Carmen would rather have her daughter ironing than getting an education. Real Women Have Curves wears its empowerment on its sleeve but even its worst harangues are easy to swallow thanks to remarkable performances by Ferrera and Ontiveros. They go at it like dogs, negotiating everything from virginity and C-section scars to cross-stitching and hysterical pregnancies. Most fascinating here is the film’s brutal frankness—Carmen hopes to make Ana work for her sister not because it will keep the family together but because she can shove her daughter’s face in the kind of work that made her a slave. Ana challenges her mother’s wrath through various acts of silent retaliation. Patricia Cardoso’s compositions are colorful yet dank but it’s the film’s delicate and open-ended finale that lingers in the mind.
- Patricia Cardoso
- George LaVoo, Josephina Lopez
- America Ferrera, Lupe Ontiveros, Michelle Moretti, Ingrid Oliu, George Lopez, Brian Sites, Solelad St. Hilaire, Sandie Torres, Dale E. Turner
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