Monday, July 24, 2017

Now on Netflix: To the Bone (2017)

To the Bone (2017) - Written and Directed by Marti Noxon; Starring Lily Collins, Keanu Reeves, Retta, Lili Taylor, Leslie Bibb, Rebekah Kennedy, Dana L. Wilson.

By Kenny Howell

Lily Collins gives a great performance as a young woman suffering from anorexia nervosa in this touching, yet troubling film.

Collins (Okja) plays the smart and witty Ellen, who has suffered for many years with the condition. Her family is kind of at their wits end with her treatment because nothing is working. Her father, doesn't know how to deal with it so he just kind of stays away, and her step mother deals with everything completely wrong, basically threatening Ellen to get better or else.


For anyone who has had any sort of mental condition, you know this does nothing whatsoever. The sufferer knows they have a problem, they even in some ways know how to cure it or at least understand the reality of the situation. They just can't do it. Their brain is wired so they can't, so they need help to change that.

Ellen's mother (Lili Taylor) also doesn't know what to do, and has had her own battles with mental problems in the past. She has moved out of town and isn't there for Ellen, which some see as running away from the problem.

As a last ditch effort, Ellen is taken to a new doctor, a kind of no BS therapist played by Keanu Reeves. He sends her to a home to stay with other people suffering from eating disorders where she is under pretty constant surveillance and has support all around her. There she is taught to love life, and fight her problem through help from others and a little tough love.

People instantly jumped on To the Bone because I guess that is the thing to do these days, but I think it handles the problem really well. It doesn't sugar coat it at all, yes there is some humor, but are we supposed to pretend that people that suffer from conditions like this don't have a sense of humor. Some deal with it cynically because that is what they know, and Ellen is one of those. It doesn't minimize what she is going through in any way what so ever. If anything, it is one of the more honest portrayals of a mental disorder, mostly because there is no quick fix approach, and just trying to "grow a pair" is not a solution. I think that the movie may not really know how to conclude the film, as it flounders a bit in the final act, but everything that comes before it makes up for it.

To the Bone is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***

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