Fight & Flight, with yourself
It’s a thin line we type when writing the reviews for Flush, there’s so much we want to say, share and praise, but NEVER at the expense of taking any surprise away from the readers (hopeful) enjoyment of whatever it is we are buzzing of at that given moment. So it’s often the case that even though we get heavily marinated in information for releases, it’s more often than not that it’s best to go in knowing as little as possible, as was the case lining up for this movie.
Jillian Bell may not be what you might say is a household name, but that’s gonna change MASSIVELY! She’s been nurtured in that renowned Comedy College SNL having been a writer for them. Her name might not be so recognisable, but everything she has done to whatever screen time she’s given is always outstanding, in particular, my favourite playing the outrageous Mercedes in ‘22 Jump Street’ (2014), where her bedroom exchange with Jonah Hill hurt me it was so funny, and mind warpingly wrong.
Going from strength to strength she’s wonderfully up front and centre in the directorial debut by Paul Downs Colaizzo ‘Brittany Runs A Marathon’, (2019) Paul also wrote it based on a true-life story.
Despite our desire to not give away plots etc, the title does actually give away the ending, but as in the greatest of tales, it’s the journey that counts. And what a journey. To main extent it is a pretty straight forward starting blocks (Brittany is told she’s significantly overweight by her doctor) to finish line in that you know she’s going to achieve a goal, but the bumps, bruises, ego shinsplints and emotional walls that are hit/endured along the way are seriously impressive to say the least.
It may seem a simple A to B on paper, but with the combination of excellent writing, performances (especially Jillian) and some very brave topics to raise along the way, it’s not only Brittany who goes through the wringer, it’s us too, to the extent it will make you take stock of your own perceptions and value system.
At the beginning, the only thing Brittany is running towards is her 30s, coasting from drink shot to drink shot, hangover to hangover, it’s all becoming a bit of a blur. Living with a flatmate who seems to have the ideal InstaLife, she’s of the thinking she’s never going to compete on the beauty barometer with this clearly vacuous individual who has the emotional depth of a smart phone screen, so she focuses on being the party, goofy, apparently not a care in the world free spirit. But many of the ‘laughs’ she is creating are no longer with her, and increasingly are at her. The lifestyle, or to be fairer, a life with zero style, is taking it’s toil, so she tries to score some Adderall pills off a doctor to maintain the lustre.
That significantly backfires when the doctor tells her she is effectively killing herself, and it begins a house of emotional cards collapse, where she slowly realises she may be as hollow as InstaLife. As with any journey, it begins with the (eventual) first step, and as any action causes reaction, new stuff starts to happen. Some good, some great, and some brutal home truths.
What is incredibly admirable about the film is the places it is willing to go to, and the topics it is willing to bravely stare into, namely ourselves. In a world that is constantly projected on surfaces about surfaces (image, presentation), we are told what is the peak of everything, and how far away from it we all are eternally. That nurtures insecurity, and that infinite lacking is a gold mine for companies to exploit, as we forever chase the approval dragon.
The movie is hysterically funny, with Jillain being key, but everyone is on point. This constant flow of visual humour and brilliantly observant (and all too real) writing is the sugar vehicle to give us the medicine to broach some seriously intense views that are perpetrated by media in creating and sustaining an entirely fake and valueless existence. In a world were body shaming is the norm, there are some moments in this movie that just make you want to jump up and cheer for what they are taking to task.
It’s not just body image they cover either, it’s mental health, who we are as people, the people we surround ourselves with, the people we really shouldn’t surround ourselves with, us as a society and the car crash that we are inevitably going to be unless we change, ie NOW! It’s quite apparent the global destruction we are allowing to happen, stems from some sort of self-loathing, at least in certain parts of society, who seem to be the ones steering it.
Ultimately it’s still entertainment, it is a movie after all, but it is truly phenomenal that a comedy movie can make you think so much about everything around you, and inside you, and still make you laugh all the way. With great integrity, it shows what can be achieved when people care, about each other, and themselves, raising our standards, not crushing them.
It may not encourage you to pick up your trainers and go for a run, but if it makes you laugh loads, and teaches you how to be a better human being, that deserves a gold medal in my books.
9/10 ‘Brittany Runs A Marathon’ is out now.