Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019)

This is one of those quietly affecting movies that unfurls deliberately at its own pace, presenting itself as an inspirational story but delivering an impressively layered character study instead. Jillian Bell is perfect in the title role, living in New York City rather aimlessly until she decides to challenge herself with losing weight and ends up facing herself in the process. Bell is unafraid to let Brittany’s less savory personality traits take over sometimes, and it makes her personal redemption journey feel all the more authentic because anyone who has had made serious changes to their lifestyles can relate to the accumulating frustrations and setbacks. It’s not a prototypical Hollywood tale in that it doesn’t quite follow a narrative path traditionally associated with its genre, instead it’s rooted more in the everyday. It makes for compelling drama that benefits from an impressive finale featuring the real-life New York City Marathon that feels electrifyingly alive. There are also a number of terrific supporting turns, in particular Utkarsh Ambudkar, who oozes confident charm and has extraordinary chemistry with Bell, and the always-welcome Michaela Watkins.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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