Sundance 2019: “Brittany Runs a Marathon” Review

Jillian Bell appears in Brittany Runs A Marathon by Paul Downs Colaizzo, Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Jon Pack.

Sundance 2019: “Brittany Runs a Marathon” Review

Jillian Bell stars in Brittany Runs a Marathon, the story of a woman approaching her thirties and not quite sure of the direction that her life is going. After a visit to the doctor, Brittany is informed that she needs to lose weight. Determined to make the necessary changes in her life, she begins running to lose weight. Some other changes include befriending her neighbor, Catherine (Michaela Watkins) and Ryan (Peter Vack), two people at a local running club. A few months after joining, Brittany suggests that they should set a goal of running the New York City Marathon. As we follow Brittany on her journey of getting healthier, we see all the struggles she faces, not only physically but mentally as well and the story that unfolds is one that will move audiences the world over.

Brittany Runs a Marathon is such an incredibly written film that creates a fully developed and realistic woman to whom almost anyone can relate. Brittany is confused, a bit aimless, and struggling to find herself in a world that she feels doesn’t accept her. What I love about the film is the fact that it not only addresses Brittany’s weight and health, but her mental health, which is just as important. People often have issues with pressure stemming from other factors in their lives. For Brittany, she can’t accept that people love her or care about her. She also doesn’t want pity, and as a result, can’t take help from others. Her self esteem is so low that she doesn’t realize what a real relationship is like or how she should be treated. These are all genuine issues that I appreciate being shown in the film. Brittany as a character is fantastic. The comedic writing in the movie is superb, having the audience roaring with laughter at the premiere at Sundance.

Jillian Bell brings Brittany to life. She is relatable, hilarious and honest in her portrayal of this character, making the audience fall in love with her, flaws and all. She wholly embraces each aspect of this character and gives an authentic performance that will keep viewers falling in love with her over and over again. Not only does she nail the comedic aspect of the role, but she embraces the faults and weaknesses of Brittany to show the vulnerability of her character so well.

What is fantastic about the writing in the film is that each character is developed more throughout the film, even the secondary characters. Writer, Paul Downs Colaizzo has created characters that feel real and fully developed as opposed to just having them as a way to move Brittany’s story forward. Over time we learn more about each character introduced and their stories as well. Michaela Watkins is a treasure, and I’m so happy to see her in this role. As Catherine, we learn about her struggles as a mother as well as a bit about her past and that she is more than she appears. Jaren, the aimless wanderer, has more to him and we get to see that develop as both he and Brittany start to put down their guards.

What I appreciate about the film and the story is that it isn’t sugarcoated. It shows that Brittany has her struggles and setbacks, losing both hopes in herself and her goals. It shows that to better herself and make positive changes in her life,  that she has to lose people and things that have kept her back. This is the sad reality of life, but one that is necessary and authentic to see in the film.

Brittany Runs a Marathon will make you laugh, cry, and maybe even take a look at yourself. Relatable and realistic characters combined with a fantastically hilarious script, make the film a crowd-pleaser, and easily one of the funniest films at Sundance this year. Paul Downs Colaizzo has certainly made a name for himself with this first film , and I look forward to seeing what he does next.

Written by
Ashley Menzel is an avid film lover and lives in Los Angeles, CA. She loves foreign films and dramas and reading books that have film adaptations. Her favorite movie of all time is One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. She loves Doctor Who, Supernatural, iZombie, and Grimm.

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