Sara Hirsh Bordo’s cheerfully upbeat documentary offers an engaging if heavily sugared portrait of a courageous woman triumphing over a disfiguring genetic mutation that prevents her from gaining weight.
Tracking the young Texan’s passage from bullied child to self-assured motivational speaker and lobbyist, “A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story” is strong on Velasquez’s developing backbone and smarts with the support of school and family.
In the first moments of “A Brave Heart,” a woman enters the frame, sits down, adjusts her hair and smiles.
The gesture may be common enough in any woman about to appear in public; in Velasquez, a disability and anti-bullying activist in her 20s, it’s momentous and telling.
Afflicted with a syndrome that, undiagnosed for years, prevents her from gaining weight, Velasquez can be a shock to behold on first encounter.
A breakup song, the track, Dunn says, was the first to kick off the project.
"I've been told it's somewhere between Justin Timberlake and Bon Iver," he says of its sound.
For the past decade, Javier Dunn has played second fiddle—both to Sara Bareilles, for whom he's served as a longtime guitarist, and to his own musical ambitions.
"For a long time, I suppressed [my creative] ideas to focus on what I thought was a more accessible, appealing sound," he said of initially marketing himself as an acoustic singer-songwriter instead of honing in on the electro sound he preferred.