You know this girl. We’ve all been this girl or been friends with this girl. She’s fun to be near, she’s a bit trashy, she’s unfocused and she’s always there for you. Of course for Brittany Forgler being the “fat best friend” isn’t always rosey and when a doctor tells her she needs to improve her health, her whole life begins to change one piece at a time.
Deciding that gyms are just too expensive, Brittany starts off with jogging “just one block”. Which leads her to joining a running club and deciding she wants to run the New York Marathon. Connecting with her annoying neighbour (who is a committed runner), making new friends and losing old ones, Brittany’s journey starts off being about her physique and ends up being more about her whole self image.
Brittany Runs a Marathon is the kind of indie-comedy you don’t see much anymore. It’s scrappy but the rough edges are worn off by sheer charm. The script, by writer/director Paul Downs Colaizzo, has as much smarts as it has heart, and the whole movie runs on Jillian Bell’s flawless lead performance as Brittany.
Bell loads Brittany with a heartbreaking array of nuances – she’s smart, outgoing, funny and desperately insecure. The sum of all these layers is a character you really root for. When she makes bad choices you want to leap into the screen and tear her away from that guy/drink/burger and give her a big hug. When she succeeds you just want to cheer.
Being inspired by a real story, Brittany’s journey is full of reverses along with the triumphs. Brittany is at times brittle and at times bold. Her defeats really sting. In one horrendous moment she drunkenly decides to tell a larger woman “the truth” and proceeds to unleash her own inner demons on the innocent bystander.
While the film busts open the “fat friend” cinema cliche, it does however fall into the lap of a few others – Brittany’s running friends include Seth (Micah Stock) a gay man trying to get fit and a “bitch” Catherine (Michaela Watkins) who isn’t as bad as she first seems. Meanwhile Brittany’s old friends are narcissistic pretty girls with barely covered insecurities of their own.
A funny script that packs some slaps along with the tickles, a great lead performance and a fresh take on the material – Brittany Runs a Marathon is a clear winner.
By Chad Armstrong
Brittany Runs a Marathon is on general release at U.K. cinemas Friday 1st November 2019.