BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON, US, 2019. Starring Jillian Bell, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Jennifer Dundas, Patch Darragh, Alice Lee, Erica Hernandez, Max Pava, Michaela Watkins, Dan Bittner, Mikey Day, Lil real Howery, Kate Arrington. Directed by Paul Downs Colaizzo. 104 minutes. Rated M (Coarse language and sex)
Here is a serious comedy or, perhaps, a comic serious drama, with 20 somethings as the target audience. Or, perhaps more accurately, late 20 somethings.
Brittany herself, Jillian Bell, is 28 and somehow rather stuck in her life, a job helping in the theatre, another job in cleaning, finding it harder to get out of bed, always late, and putting on weight. She has a roommate who generally looks glamorous but who puts her down. Brittany also tends to put other people down. Is she going anywhere else herself but down?
When she visits the doctor hoping to get a drug prescription, he challenges her to get active. It seems unlikely at first, but she does try, and, since the title itself is something of a spoiler, we know she is going to get active.
One of the troubles, of course, is that Brittany has a very low self-image, memories of her mother abandoning the family, being cared for by her sister and her sister’s kind husband, moving from Philadelphia to New York City, getting an apprenticeship in advertising but her life becoming something of a flop. But, there is an amusing moment when she goes to a gym, listens to the spiel, then asks the price and realises that she can do the same kinds of things out in the fresh air at no cost!
Brittany is set weight loss target and intends to enrolled in the New York Marathon. So, a great deal film focuses on exercise, trying to meet her goals, making friends with some of the people she has looked down on, meeting a somewhat slothful but genial young, Jern (Utkarsh Ambudkar) who cleans with her and they occupy the house of wealthy couple’s house clean and who are away on holidays.
One of the troubles is that Brittany, with her low self-image, can be very mean to people which elicits mean responses in return. This comes to a head when she injures her leg, cannot participate in the marathon, goes home to visit the family and is exceedingly mean to a woman who is something of a mirror-image of herself.
Despite the troubles, and there are more, we know that Brittany is going to recuperate eventually, apologises to the woman she insulted and receives a positive message in return – which means then that the film focuses on hope as it builds up to the marathon itself, Brittany entering, finding it difficult, tempted to pull out, encouraged by all her friends who are watching. And so for characters and audiences alike, a happy ending.
Transmission Released October 31st.
Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.