The varying parabolas of self-belief

The varying parabolas of self-belief Amy Schumer stars in I Feel Pretty
I
 Feel
 Pretty
 (12A)

 

Namechecking the endearing Natalie Wood tune from West Side Story in its title, this comes to us with the oldest message in movies: it’s the inner person that counts in matters of the heart rather than the outer one.

Renee Bennett (Amy Schumer) is a kooky IT worker who’s a bit on the plump side. Thinking gym’ll fix it for her, she hotfoots it to an emporium called Soul Cycle. Here she overdoes things on an exercise bike. She ends up having an embarrassing accident that results in concussion. When she wakes up she thinks she’s indescribably beautiful, with a figure to die for.

Flushed with confidence, she begins an affair with a man called Ethan (Rory Scovel).  Ethan is one of those nice-but-boring guys you often find in films like this. He’s so strait-laced he enjoys the eccentricity (or purported eccentricity) of live wire Renee.

The formerly insecure New Yorker now begins working at a beauty agency called Lily LeClaire. It also employs supermodels like (gulp) Naomi Campbell and Lauren Hutton.

Naomi stands around being Naomi. Lauren actually listens. Before you can say, “diffusion!” (the buzz word) Renee’s High Street  attitude to the high-class products hits home.  The Beautiful People from Fifth Avenue start to run with her ideas even though they look at her as if she has two heads.

A later accident – Renee has more accidents than the rest of us have hot dinners – reverts her to her original personality. She realises she was never beautiful.  Her insecurities return. When Ethan tells her he loves her she doesn’t feel deserving of this. She runs away from him.

I found all the Cinderella stuff fake. The confident Renee looked to me more like the real one. She’s much cleverer than she lets on. I didn’t buy ‘insecure’ Renee.  You can’t be innocent and streetwise at the same time.

Voice

Michelle Williams also works at Lily LeClaire. She speaks in the kind of squeaky voice that reminds you of Melanie Griffith. Apparently this lowers her self-esteem. I found Williams’ insecurity as hard to take as Schumer’s. Her voice sounds put on. We all know how she talks, especially those of us who’ve seen her in the recent  Manchester By-the-Sea.

It’s a pity Williams isn’t still making films like that. Schumer, you feel, will continue making ones like this.

She lacks the kind of sweetness Renee Zellweger had in spades in the Bridget Jones movies. Despite all her pratfalls and (quasi) kookiness, she’s closer to Melissa McCarthy in her style than Zellweger.

Lauren Hutton would have carried the message of the film better than her. Hutton is now in her 70s. She has her share of wrinkles but at least she looks real. Will Schumer run to her surgeon when the wrinkles start to appear? Probably.  Who doesn’t today? I prefer Hutton to those botoxed beauties with their frozen foreheads and wide eyes carrying expressions of permanent surprise.

 

Fair **

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