To the Bone (2017)
Director: Marti Noxon
Starring: Lily Collins, Keanu Reeves, Carrie Preston, Lili Taylor
Plot: Ellen is an unruly 20-year-old anorexic girl who spent the better part of her teenage years being shepherded through various recovery programs, only to find herself several pounds lighter every time. Determined to find a solution, her dysfunctional family agrees to send her to a group home for youths, which is led by a non-traditional doctor. Surprised by the unusual rules, Ellen must discover for herself how to confront her addiction and attempt self-acceptance.
One year after the release of T.V. show ’13 Reasons Why’, Netflix has once again taken to addressing mental illness with their new film ‘To the Bone’.
The film does a good job of tackling the distressing topic of eating disorders, something that both star Lily Collins and director/ writer Marti Noxon have reportedly had personal experiences with. These, plus other hard-hitting issues, such as miscarriage and suicide, were handled with tact and sensitivity. Impressively, whilst maintaining a thoughtful approach, the film didn’t shy away from showing the brutality of these topics, leaving the viewer thinking about them long after the credits roll.
A big part of the emotion and tone of the picture came from its use of music or rather, the lack of it. Because, in general, it featured very little. This left the film with a raw and uncut feeling in the best possible way. Emotional, distressing or happy moments weren’t overridden by popular songs or upbeat tempos, ensuring we weren’t left feeling like we were watching yet another teen movie.
So, maybe Ellen fits the ‘I’m not like other girls character’ trope, rocking a sassy attitude, combat boots and eyeliner. But who cares? The film was raw, moving and even enjoyable. Ultimately, it’s there to open up conversations about a topic that’s often brushed under the carpet – there are almost no good movies about eating disorders and if this one can raise the subject and make it more acceptable to talk about, then I would consider it a success.