Loosely based on the true story of his real-life best friend Brittany, writer/director Paul Downs Colaizzo delivers one of the best dramedies this year at Sundance, the aptly named “Brittany Runs A Marathon.”

Although an ensemble film by some measure, Jillian Bell takes center stage as a young woman struggling with body issues, insecurities, and a general lack of direction in her life. She covers up such conversational non-starters with her wit and humor, although sometimes her quips reveal too much; double-edged, they often lightly cut the listener while gutting herself.

Brittany’s ire is fueled by keeping up with the virtual Joneses in her social media feed, with everyone’s life looking far better than hers; in particular her vapid, outgoing roommate (Alice Lee) and her successful, upstairs neighbor (Michaela Watkins). It doesn’t help that she can’t get away from such comparisons even when taking a break from Facebook, as she plays this same game with members on her own family, and even perfect strangers with their presumably perfect lives. As such, “Brittany” is more than just a film about poor body image, its more of a survival story in a time when the virtual seems preferable to the actual; when everyone feels they must “go it alone” as long as they share the news eventually; and connections are constantly made online but scarcely in reality.

Many of the actors in the film usually wind up as the sidekick or supporting character in other movies, but here, the cast of “Brittany” is given so much to do — with much of their activities contributing to the overall storyline — that sometimes they all feel like co-leads without ever crowding the titular focus (and actor) of the film.

The marathon that Brittany endures is certainly more than literal and one for which she must volunteer. She realizes that in the game of life the prize doesn’t always go to the swift, but to those who just finish. Very funny and heartfelt, “Brittany” is that rare film that doesn’t preach or condone; just simply tells the story of one woman’s journey to love herself, accept that others love her too. Sometimes the best success stories are within and never get a single “Like.”

“Brittany Runs A Marathon” was picked up by Amazon, so watch for it soon on Prime.

Watch the Q& A session with the writer/director here!

Paul Downs Colaizzo, director of Brittany Runs A Marathon, an official selection of the NEXT program at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Brittany Runs A Marathon (2019)

1h 43min | Drama

Director: Paul Downs Colaizzo
Writer: Paul Downs Colaizzo
Stars: Utkarsh Ambudkar, Kate Arrington, Jillian Bell

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