Brittany Runs a Marathon (4 stars)

Brittany Runs a Marathon

Jillian Bell sprints into the spotlight in Paul Downs Colaizzo's heartfelt and relatable comedy drama

Opening in the vein of Trainwreck, this begins as a bitterly funny portrait of a woman leading a hedonistic lifestyle. But, being based on a true story, what emerges is something less comedic and more heartfelt. New Yorker Brittany (Jillian Bell) goes to the doctor trying to score some Adderall, and ends up being cautioned about her weight and diet. Reluctantly resolving to get fit, she tries out running and eventually sets her sights on the marathon, but the road is paved with hurdles and temptations.

It's a small, simple story with big themes, some of them rarely seen on screen. Bridget Jones struggled with her weight in a comical fashion, but this takes a harder look at the public's perception of plus-sized women. It's tricky to balance criticising prejudice with celebrating healthy weight loss, but debut writer-director Paul Downs Colaizzo explores this well, particularly when tackling the darker results of Brittany's own self-image.

Bell, briefly hilarious in films like Rough Night, 22 Jump Street and Office Christmas Party, is both funny and relatable in a meatier role, and achieves palpable chemistry with Jennifer Dundas as neighbour Shannon and Utkarsh Ambudkar as love interest Jern. Add gay friends to this multicultural mix and you have a very modern movie that never feels forced: Colaizzo is gay himself and friends with the real-life Brittany – he began writing the film at the start of her journey.

Not all the details are accurate: one fiction Colaizzo adds in is self-centred influencer flatmate Gretchen (Alice Lee), who uses Brittany as a party pal when she needs her and drops her when she doesn't. While this has an authentic flavour, it's under-explored, but that's a small criticism when the film is such a sincere tribute to the perseverance of one woman.

Selected release from Fri 1 Nov. Available on Amazon Prime from Fri 15 Nov.

Brittany Runs a Marathon

  • 4 stars
  • 2019
  • US
  • 1h 44min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Paul Downs Colaizzo
  • Cast: Jillian Bell, Jennifer Dundas, Patch Darragh

Brittany (Bell) is a New Yorker whose doctor warns her about her weight and diet, so she resolves to get fit by running. It’s a small, simple story, but writer/director Colaizzo (who based it on the experiences of his roommate) explores it well, Bell is funny and relatable and it’s a sincere tribute to one woman’s…