Hammerle on… “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” “Official Secrets”

“Brittany Runs a Marathon”

Based on a true story, “Brittany Runs a Marathon” director Paul Downs Colaizzo focuses his camera in “Brittany Runs a Marathon” on the human condition. Be you straight, gay, rich or poor, we all wrestle with various problems as we journey through life.

In this case, Jillian Bell gives a fascinating performance as Brittany, a single resident of New York City wrestling with several problems, one of them being her weight. A foul-mouth partygoer whose hangovers consistently leave her arriving too late to catch the subway, she finally goes to a doctor played by Patch Darragh to get a health analysis. What she finds out shocks and challenges her.

Rating: "Brittany Runs a Marathon"More to the point, Brittany weighs close to 200 pounds and must choose between excess and exercise. Though she has been advised by her doctor to run, she flees from the street when she sees her overweight reflection on a lunch stand outside of her front door.

What makes this film so fascinating is the relationship Brittany develops with Catherine, who lives next to her in their apartment building. Michaela Watkins will immediately capture your attention as Catherine, an attractive woman going through a miserable divorce where she is denied custody of her two young children. She encourages Brittany to join her in a small running group that is preparing to participate in the next New York City Marathon, and Brittany will proceed to fascinate you as she tries to develop the ability to run faster.

What gives this film its emotional power flows from Brittany’s attempt to lose 50 pounds and redefine her life. Far from an easy task, you watch her struggle with disappointment at every turn.

There are some other wonderful performances, particularly coming from Utkarsh Ambudkar, a young man who is also fighting his own anxiety. Initially annoying each other, they end up developing a relationship that will leave you rooting for both of them.

As I noted earlier, there is no easy way to address the problems we all face in life. We simply need to remember that the secret to living a fulfilling life comes from embracing lovers, friends and family. Brittany taught us that lesson. So, please keep this fine film on your to-do list.

“Official Secrets”

“Official Secrets,” directed by Gavin Hood, is a historically important film filled with some great performances. It tells the shocking true story of how Katharine Gun, a British intelligence specialist, revealed classified information to a newspaper that described how the United States and Britain were trying to blackmail certain UN Security Council members into supporting the Iraq war. The movie’s focus is on Gun’s subsequent criminal indictment and her attempt to defend herself on the grounds that she was doing nothing more than revealing the dishonesty of the United States and Britain.

Rating: "Official Secrets"The movie thrives on numerous wonderful performances, beginning with Keira Knightley as Gun. Married to a Muslim immigrant, played by Adam Bakri, her actions risked her own freedom as well as the possibility of her husband being deported. Knightley is a stunning actress, as seen in her prior performances in “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” (2003), this year’s “The Aftermath” and “Atonement” (2007).

Additionally, Matt Smith gives a very effective performance as Martin Bright, a British newspaper reporter. Smith is a fine actor who elevates the emotional impact of his films, as seen in his performance as the husband of Queen Elizabeth II in the brilliant Netflix series “The Crown.” It is also worth noting the performance of Rhys Ifans as a rugged, profane newspaper reporter who is passionately committed to showing how President Bush and Prime Minister Blair are hiding the truth to justify a war.

It is important to note that this is a film that needs to been seen by all trial lawyers. Gun needed effective representation, and the enormously talented Ralph Fiennes embraces that role as Gun’s counsel. While he and his colleagues understand Gun was solely motivated to expose the truth, they also see that a guilty plea would significantly reduce her jail exposure.

Those of us who have tried criminal cases over the years fully understand those circumstances. Sometimes, you are forced to swallow your professional pride to save a reluctant client from a result he and his family would come to regret.

Finally, it is heartbreaking to be forced to remember a war that should have never occurred. Led by Prime Minister Tony Blair in England and President George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld in our country, they started an invasion based on the false premise that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. More than 100,000 Iraqis and 4,000 Americans died to remove Saddam and open up the tinderbox that resonates to this very day.•

Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or the office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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