We’ve all had that thought – “This year, my resolution is to get fit and do a fun run / marathon / triathlon / insert sporting achievement here”. Usually it lasts until the end of January, maybe mid-February and then we slump back into our old lazy habits before Easter rolls around.
Brittany Runs a Marathon is the true story of a woman who followed through – not by setting a mountainous goal on day one, but by taking it one day at a time, and with the help of some running buddies. But instead of showing the power and the glory of setting one’s mind to task, this film shows the peaks, the slumps and the moments of desperation that we would all identify with.
Brittany (Jillian Bell) gets a rude shock when a GP tells her how unhealthy her lifestyle is. He challenges her to lose some weight, and after the initial indignation has passed, she does a lap of the neighbourhood block. The next day, despite herself, she walks a little further. Her daily shuffle catches the attention of a well-meaning neighbour Catherine (Michaela Watkins) – a far fitter and more energetic jogger – who invites her to join the local ‘running group’; where Brittany ends up at the back of the pack with Seth (Micah Stock), a fellow ring-in attempting to improve his lifestyle for the sake of his son. The unlikely trio set a goal to run the New York Marathon in just under a year’s time.
Winning hearts at the Sundance Film Festival this year, Brittany Runs A Marathon is a comedy-drama, the directorial debut for Paul Downs Colaizzo, who has a background in theatre and cut his screen teeth with the reboot of Macgyver, among other series. The film has the genuine thread of an indie film, but with just enough gloss to appeal to a mass audience.
The script is witty and sassy yet real, and while some of the characters are just a little bit ‘out there’, viewers will recognise their own friends, colleagues and neighbours in the sub-plots and scenarios. The producers filmed the marathon scenes during the actual New York Marathon, which serves as a surprisingly moving climax to the story – by the time Brittany gets there, you’re really rooting for her to finish!
Brittany Runs a Marathon is perfect weekend movie fare – funny but warm, and may even inspire you you to keep those resolutions a little longer next year.
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Belinda Yench is a Brisbane-based writer and communications specialist. She contributes to The Blurb on theatre and film