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Review: To The Bone

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By Pierangelly Del Rio Martinez


Shortly after being announced, Netflix’s original To The Bone found itself in the middle of controversy. Similar to another Netflix production, the hit series 13 Reasons WhyTo The Bone was conceived to raise awareness on a difficult and taboo topic, in this case, anorexia. Despite good intentions, the film created by Marti Norton, raised concerns for potentially exacerbating the stigma around eating disorders, their glamorisation and for being triggering to those who are in the process of recovery.

Truth be told, To The Bone, is not easy to watch. The film carries a mental health warning telling audiences that the realistic images to be depicted might be harmful. A few minutes into the film, we see a shot of Lily Collin’s extremely thin frame (Collin’s  lost weight specifically for the part.) The shocking image is very difficult to digest. However, the film did not romanticise anorexia as this was portrayed in a negative light; to transmit how the disorder affected Collin’s character, Eli. In the rest of the movie, little of her body was shown, only when it was pivotal to the plot. To The Bone then, cleverly manages this aspect and doesn’t fall into the category of crude films whose only goal seems to be shocking their audience with crude images.

To The Bone is based on the real experiences of Marti Norton’s, which provides a realistic look at the lives of people suffering from an ED and it’s not just a shallow attempt to portray them. Norton doesn’t limit the script to the medical processes but also focuses on her character’s internal world. This is shown by Eli’s isolation from the people, her family in particular. “I’m sorry for not being a normal person,” she says in front of bewildered family members who try to support her but fail to understand her. They speak of how Eli’s sickness has affected their lives, which shows how egotistic people can be, even when they care for someone. As a result, Eli is a lonely, grumpy and pessimistic character.

Eli, although the protagonist, is not the sole focus of the movie since other characters with EDs are introduced. Eli moves to a house with other patients in treatment. The characters are a diverse crowd that serves to break the false connotations usually associated with eating disorders: that only white, skinny women are the ones who suffer from this.

To The Bone’s strength lies in its characters. Lily Collins gives a stellar performance as Eli, transmitting perfectly his isolation and her frustration with herself. Keanu Reeves, although with limited appearances, gives a surprising and different performance (being used to his roles in action flicks) as Eli’s unorthodox doctor, who refuses to fix her life magically as she and us, the audience, would expect. He believes in her, in his way, and knows the key to her recovery lies in her own hands.

To The Bone might not be perfect, but you can tell it tries to raise awareness on an issue society sometimes chooses to ignore or even condemn when nothing is known about it. It’s true that it can impact people who are beginning to recover from an ED, since it might relieve memories, but whoever is  planning on watching it knows which position they are in right know to decide  for themselves whether this is the right one or not.

 

About the author / 

Pierangelly Del Rio

Pierangelly Del Rio is an English and Creative writing student who enjoys reading and watching films during her free time. @pierangelly12

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