For the last two weeks, I have been on a news and media hiatus – made much easier by the fact that I was on holiday in a little village with little to no internet. Occasionally posting an Instagram post or WhatsApping my family I avoided all news apart from that which was told to me.
This morning I was flicking through Netflix and saw a film called “To The Bone” – the blurb reading:
“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.”
As a general rule, I don’t watch TV programmes or Films about mental health issues. I have broken this rule a couple of times – “Girl Interrupted” is the one that stands out. I avoided “13 Reasons Why” and the like. But; for some reason, I was drawn to watch “To The Bone”. No idea why.
A little background. I have struggled with food in the past. To the point where I had a food phobia and couldn’t prepare food let alone eat it. You could say food and I have a love/ hate relationship. I eat because I need to nine times out of ten and more recently with my jaw being locked my diet was basically sugar to get in calories – a bit of a personal hell.
Anyway, to the point – the film. It was good. It was merciless, difficult to watch. But, it was truthful. I found the characters a little extreme at some points. Then the characters portrayed were all mentally unwell. Which generally brings out extremes.
After watching the film my thoughts turned to the well-being of the main actress – Lily Collins. She was realistically in terms of look, playing an anorexic. She was pale, very thin and frail. I wondered how far she took her character.
After a little digging, I found much controversy surrounding this film. Various outlets saying that it was “triggering” and “a how-to guide for anorexia.” Which, while it was a hard to watch – and it could possibly trigger latent issues. It most certainly was not a “how to guide”. It was brutal in its honesty, didn’t glamourise the illness at all and actually showed the despair, hope and willpower that usually remains unseen when discussions about eating disorders come forward.
Lily Collins did, under the guidance of medical expertise, safely lose weight. The rest was the magic of prosthetics, CGI, makeup and wardrobe. This is not unusual in film production. And, to be frank, I think all the actors in the film done stunningly well.
I leave you now with this thought – Do you think that the outcry regarding this film is more to do with the fact that it shines a light on the dark and brutal reality of eating disorders rather than the effect it “might” have on viewers?”