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I Feel Pretty review – a fun but problematic story of self confidence


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Amy Schumer’s latest comedy has a meaningful message at heart but suffers from a somewhat problematic delivery.

After a spin cycle injury causes her to see herself as a supermodel, low self-esteem sufferer Renee finds a whole other level of confidence. Full of gags, the film follows her as she navigates her work, love and social life with her shiny, new perspective, exploring the ups and downs of self-love.

Renee’s negative and defeatist mindset is established early on in this film and, through Schumer’s physical performance which does deserve praise, she becomes an emblem of insecurity. Even down to the way she carries herself and her lack of belief in her own potential significantly hold her back from the world of opportunity she desires. It is through this that the film’s message first becomes apparent – the notion that people will only see you how you see yourself. A valid message for sure: to earn respect, you must respect yourself.

Slight issues start to arise, however, as the film’s plot truly kicks in. Yes, it is established that she dislikes the way she looks, resulting in a lack of confidence and power – for the film to progress, this must change. This change comes only as a result of her new perspective; she sees herself as beautiful and, with this, others around her start to see her in a new light too. The issue here lies in whether this suggests that confidence causes beauty or whether it comes as a result of it. The film unintentionally presents a chicken vs the egg dilemma – people are seeing Renee differently due to her new attitude, but her attitude is a result of beauty.

It is hard to tell which of the aforementioned comes across stronger in the film. Different elements have a different focus. Job, man, friends, colleagues, issues of oneself. All incorporate the film’s overarching theme of body positivity and self-love. Whilst this is effective in conveying just how much something as uncontrollable (for the most part) as self-confidence can affect every facet of one’s life, it also weakens the film’s core message and plot due to a lack of focus. The film would have certainly benefitted from picking one aspect of her life – her career arguably being the most interesting choice – and sticking to it.

Although weakening its body positive message, these issues don’t define the entire film. The characters are all extremely relatable and, whilst relying quite significantly on stereotypes, they do convey very real and human struggles. It focuses on an array of different insecurities within its characters working to bring awareness to the vast scope of confidence issues existing in the modern world.

On top of this, the humour is largely inoffensive. Some jokes do seem to be at Schumer’s (specifically her appearance’s) expense, once again undermining the pro-self-confidence message, but the true laughs come from seeing her brash self-confidence and how it undeniably empowers her.

The film has good intentions at heart and doesn’t take itself too seriously; something that shines through with its laugh-out-loud and sometimes even cringe-worthy comedy, fun soundtrack and light-hearted tone. If one overlooks the film’s contradictions and problematic delivery, it is ultimately a fun and accessible way to send a message crucial in today’s world of photoshop and filters.

I Feel Pretty is out now, distributed by STX Entertainment.

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