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Cooper, S.H. Harris, A. (2005). Real women have curves (2002) Director: Patricia Cardoso. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(5):1481-1487.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(5):1481-1487

Film Review

Real women have curves (2002) Director: Patricia Cardoso

Review by:
Steven H. Cooper

Adrienne Harris

Real women have curves is a coming-of-age film, the story of Ana, a Latina adolescent engaged in a passionate and willful pursuit of love and education. Emblematically, the film opens with a long tracking shot following Ana from her Spanish-speaking ghetto community into the polished world of Beverly Hills High School, crossing the class lines and power grids of contemporary Los Angeles. She is the gifted, ambitious child of an immigrant family who both impedes and enables her movement into the world of opportunity. It is as though going to school is, at once, a gift from the parents' generation and an act of symbolic parricide directed toward the parents.

This is a dazzling and savvy film. It is a film about women and bodies, about mothers and daughters, and about the deformations class and work make upon body and psyche. The film brims with the complex mixes of speech patterns, accents, languages and cultures, the hybridity of modern and postmodern immigrant and urban life. In the realm of film practices, this filmmaker is perceptive about the camera's gaze, the voyeurism that engages and compels filmmaker, character and audience. Control and regulation arises and is contested in this film, at many levels. The filmmaker, Patricia Cardoso, has been making movies for over a decade. Both she and the scriptwriter admit to personal and biographical aspects of the story, although Cardoso is from a middle-class family.

It was a staple of 1970s feminist film theory that the camera, the apparatus of film, like much ideologically drenched paraphernalia (including psychoanalysis) allowed a domination by patriarchy.

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