To the Bone (MA15+)
Rating: 4 / 5
A content warning sets the tone of new Netflix offering To The Bone, making way for an important but challenging indie film. It’s directed by Marti Noxon, a survivor of an eating disorder (ED) who sought to “dispel the myths” of EDs.
We meet the sassy and headstrong Ellen (Mirror Mirror’s Lilly Collins) as she comes out of her third round of in-patient treatment for anorexia nervosa. Gripped by a disease that consumes both her mind and body, she can’t break her habits of under-eating (when eating) and chronically exercising.
Persuaded by her stepmother, she eventually sees a specialist, the unconventional yet likeable Dr William Beckham (Keanu Reeves), who agrees to help if she agrees to enter a residential care program for a minimum of six weeks.
What follows is a compelling and often heartbreaking story, showing how Ellen’s relationships, particularly with the vivacious Luke (Alex Sharp), affect her, ultimately leading to a breaking point where she must decide if she wants to live or die.
Exquisitely shot and with a soundtrack that shows the light and shade of Collins’ character, this is both enjoyable and difficult to watch. The fact that Collins chose to lose weight for this role (after struggling with her own ED) makes this hauntingly realistic, and her behaviours and conversations about weight loss and calorie counting may trigger people who have experienced ED.
This film is somewhat flawed in its depiction of in-patient care, so it’s important not to take To The Bone at face value. That being said, it’s invaluable as a conversation starter for people who want to be further educated about the realities of ED and how they can support loved ones experiencing it.