Amazon Studios recently began its rollout of its latest dramedy Brittany Runs A Marathon. Based loosely on writer/director Paul Downs Colaizzo’s roommate and good friend, Brittany O’Neil, the film tells the story of a fictionalized version of her person. Instead, Brittany Forgler is the focus of this particular story, and her creation is part of what separates this film from what people would see as a typical biopic.
It’s a point I was able to draw into sharper contrast during the press day for Brittany Runs A Marathon, as I attended the press day for the film on behalf of CinemaBlend. I threw the question of how this movie differs from most of its ilk to all of the cast on hand during the film’s press day. The answers I found are shared in the informative video package, included below:
The big answer that defines the purpose of Brittany Runs A Marathon to a tee came from both Micah Stock, as well as writer/director Colaizzo, as this wasn’t designed to be a straight up biopic experience. Rather, Paul Downs Colaizzo took the real Brittany’s journey and turned it into a fictionalized story that runs along a similar path.
Admittedly, the man behind telling Brittany Runs A Marathon’s tale of self-improvement and personal responsibility did use some of Brittany O’Neil’s achievements and benchmarks to inspire what Jillian Bell’s Brittany Forgler would go through. But as far as the entire film is concerned, it’s a tribute rather than a retelling of Ms. O’Neil’s life story.
However, there’s also a greater difference in how Brittany Runs A Marathon crafts a tale of someone trying to better themselves through exercise. As I had discussed with Ms. Bell during out sit-down, the film does away with the idealization of weight loss. While the film progresses, and Brittany Forgler does get closer to her goal, she becomes both more responsible and a bit more isolated.
There’s a bit of a rough patch right where Forgler’s story should be, under traditional biopic circumstances, coming together for the big finale. It’s at that moment that the fictional Brittany starts to become a bit combative, and engages in some behavior that threatens to set her back, if not trigger a full on relapse.
It’s that unexpected trajectory that Jillian Bell truly feels separates Brittany Runs A Marathon from any other film “inspired by a true story”. Not everything is ok because Brittany started to exercise, and through the rest of the film from that point, there are even harder but more valuable lessons to be learned by our protagonist.
Brittany Runs A Marathon isn’t a biopic, but it takes that intent of that genre and uses it to a greater effect than when it’s married to historical record. Without having to conform to the reality of Brittany O’Neil’s very real journey, the story of Brittany Forgler can shine a light on those efforts in a way that doesn’t need to answer to the call of accuracy.
What’s left is a movie that draws from reality, but shows it through a prism of realistic fiction. The result is a film that’s just as inspiring, if not more so, than some of Hollywood’s best biopics in the business. You can see the results for yourself in Brittany Runs A Marathon, which is currently in limited release, with a wide release set for September 13th.