Real Women Have Curves / Sunset Boulevard

Two Movies, The Same Woman?

Picture This Double Feature: ‘Curves’ Meets ‘Sunset Blvd.’

By Rebecca Redshaw

Reprinted from

CurvesOne city – two movies – two very different women – or are they?

What could the classic Hollywood studio picture, “Sunset Boulevard” (recently re-mastered and released on DVD) and the independent box office surprise, “Real Women Have Curves” possibly have in common? It’s the season for lists, so let’s make one.

  • Norma Desmond [Gloria Swanson], the desperate silent screen diva, clings to her fantasy that she is still a “star” loved by her adoring public. Ana Garcia [America Ferrara] is desperate, too. Desperate to change her life from a sweatshop future and find her place in the world.
    Both want more.
  • In her fifties, Ms Desmond is deemed “over the hill” and unemployable by the people in charge of the studios. Just a senior in high school, Ms Garcia is told by her parents that she has to lower her expectations and accept her lot in life.
    Both fight the system.
  • Ms Desmond is fastidious about her make-up and her wardrobe. She’s always “ready for my close-up.” Ana is hounded by her mother [Lupe Ontiveros – wonderfully identifiable as everyone’s mother] to pay more attention to her appearance. “Walk like a lady.” “Lose some weight.”
    Whether they like it or not, both know looks do matter.
  • Both women have love interests (even though they are quite opposites). As Joe Gillis, William Holden sneaks away from his clinging paramour to find happiness in a budding screenwriter’s arms. Ana tastes love for the first time by running to the arms of a classmate her family would never accept for all the wrong reasons.
    Both know success isn’t everything – a warm body is nice, too.
  • The closing shot of both pictures has each leading lady walking toward the camera in a moment of defiance. Reality can be a bitch or bitchin’. It all depends on your point of view.

“Real Women Have Curves” will probably never make the multitude of “all–time” lists like “Sunset Boulevard,” but that doesn’t lessen its charm or impact. A drawing in pen and ink may be just as brilliantly crafted, just as insightful, as a Van Gogh masterpiece.