The film does enough to explain the issue, whilst showing how devastating its effects can be
Controversy has surrounded Netflix’s latest drama To The Bone upon its release, with some organizations viewing the film as glorification of anorexia. They are suggesting that the portrayal on screen may induce more young people to become affected by the mental health issue. Personally, I believe that the film does enough to explain the issue, whilst showing how devastating its effects can be, rather than portraying it in a positive light.
Ellen (Lily Collins), has never found a solution for her anorexia. Still struggling, she is ejected from another scheme, with her options reducing by the day. Her parents decide to send her to a home for youths with anorexia, viewed as experimental and somewhat risky. Under the care of Dr. Beckham (Keanu Reeves) she undergoes her most difficult challenge yet.
Lily Collins puts in a tremendous performance as Ellen, showing exactly how exhaustive the illness can be. From her actions and body language towards others to her emotionally drained nature, Collins understands the hardship that comes with anorexia. She has spoken out about her own struggles, and this experience has clearly helped her in creating Ellen as a character.
In fact, all of the characters within the film are fully realised, and the sense of community they create is empowering and doesn’t glorify the illness. The film is very focused on showing a diverse range of strategies for dealing with anorexia as well as multiple variations of the struggle at a personal level.
However, despite strongly developed characters and a tight script, the film’s ending destroys a lot of the previous building work. It’s starkly out of place and turns the positive attitude, not to a negative one but a wrong one. It’s disorientating, confusing and somewhat pointless.
To The Bone is a film that characterises anorexia. It makes it feel real to an audience that may have not experienced it themselves or through others close to them. There is a very good core to the picture and a haunting performance from Lily Collins, but the ending changes the nature too much. It’s a shame but it really should have been picked up in the multiple stages of production.