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  • Marah Heikkila

Review: Anorexia is topic of Netflix film

Controversial topics are becoming more popular subject matter, especially in media. Controversial topics such as self-harm, abuse, and mental illness are coming to the forefront across all forms of media. These topics offer insight, which can be engagingly conveyed through TV shows, documentaries, movies, etc.

“To The Bone,” directed by Marti Noxon, is a film that addresses and discusses the topic of anorexia. The film is not easy to watch, especially for those who think they may know how bad anorexia is, when in reality, it’s an even more, triggering topic when it’s brought to the big screen. The film focuses on Elena, aka Eli, played by Like Collins, and her battle with anorexia nervosa. The film shows the dynamics of her home life, the way her anorexia affects her family and even those she is with during treatment. The film is focused in those two areas, and even though it may seem slow paced at some points, it is riveting in other places.

Collins does an excellent job of capturing someone who’d be in her position. She demonstrates those abilities through dense moments of dialogue, when she tries to explain how she can’t stop, and how the past had ruined her, especially since she went through the traumatic event of being blamed for another’s suicide.

Even in heart-breaking moments there are still pitfalls that happen. Dr. William Beckham, played by Keanu Reeves, is made out to be a trained professional who will ultimately save and cure those who are in the treatment center. He doesn’t do that. Instead, he’s not there as often as one might expect, which makes his appearances at times choppy and complacent.

The story also created an awkward subplot in between the painfully, insightful and primary plot. This idea blended with romance, especially in a film with such controversial and triggering content, isn’t unheard of. Based off the awkwardness of its presence, it’s clear that the romance has been put in to lighten the mood.

The interactions between Ellen and Luke, played by Alex Sharp, come off as quirky and admirable at first. This soon changes during the mid-half of the film, when the interactions become too scripted, even forced in a sense. The angst may have been good to maintain, but the full out romantic subplot tugged at the seriousness of the plot. It compromised the sensitive nature of the film by giving the viewer an unfocused plot to try and identify.

Although that subplot and some of the characters fall flat, the film is insightful. It gives the viewer the chance to see the effects of anorexia. It also gives viewers a way to educate themselves and break down stigmatisms. The movie brings about controversy, as well as mixed reviews, but films that have such personal and triggering content often do. The film is weak in some parts, but it does its best to move and to teach the people who watch it. The movie is rated TV-MA and is streaming on Netflix.

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