Release Date: 14/07/17
To The Bone is a Netflix film about eating disorders directed by Marti Noxon, film writer known for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. The protagonist, Ellen/Eli, is played by Lily Collins. This film has caused a lot of controversy because of its glamorous depiction of anorexia and eating disorders in general.
Ellen is a 20 years old artist and college dropout which has been dealing with anorexia her whole teenagehood and is sent to an unconventional group home after all other recovery programs have failed to help out her eating disorder. The way patients are treated in this facility is much different from all the others: they are not forced to eat and they are shown what they are missing out on so that they can give themselves a chance at living and heal that way. This gives an interesting insight into eating disorders, as thinness and food are obsessions but the main problem is that people suffering think they don’t deserve to experience life fully and most of the time have lost the energy and motivation to live altogether.
The film does a very good job at explaining the reality and what goes through the mind of someone with an eating disorder and probably this is because the director and some of the cast have suffered themselves from eating disorders. The downside of this is that people watching that are currently experiencing mental health disorders can take inspiration and make use of the “tricks” showed in the film. Also, the film is definitely dark and not that easy to watch but also quirky and exaggerated at times and fails at showing the disorders for how bad they really are, making them almost “cool”. This, in my opinion, is something to really consider especially because this film is available to young people which might be profoundly influenced by what’s shown on screen.
Moreover, no recovery is actually shown in the film even if there is hope and prospects of a way out. Also, the reasons why the protagonist chooses recovery seem petty, while often someone chooses recovery because they are able to believe in themselves again and believe they are worthy of great things. Seen from someone that hasn’t experienced an eating disorder, this makes it seem like eating disorders are not serious and you’d just need to eat and stop being so depressed to get out of it.
In conclusion the acting and some of the insights into an eating disordered mind are good but there are definitely some aspects of the film that are not satisfying or deep enough. Since eating disorders and especially anorexia are extremely common among people of all ages, sexes and genders I don’t think they should be brushed off or made glamorous in any way.