“I’ve got it under control. Nothing bad’s gonna happen.”Ellen
CN: Eating disorders
To The Bone works best as character study of a young woman in recovery for an eating disorder but struggles in its efforts to provide a compelling narrative framework. This is not an enjoyable film to watch, as Lily Collins’ enthralling performance makes it clear that, despite her protestations of control, Ellen is constantly on the verge of tragedy. There is dark humour in Ellen’s cynical attitude and undoubtedly some will perceive this as flippant or exploitative treatment of a serious disorder, though really it comes from grounded realism — indeed both Collins and writer-director, Marti Noxon, bring their own experiences to the project. Undoubtedly the shots of emaciated bodies could be triggering to some, but portrayal of the graphic reality is important to this film; it is not romanticised or fetishised. Noxon works primarily in television and To The Bone is rarely shot in a way that feels particularly cinematic — that works reasonably well within the confines of the group home, but it leaves the wider world feeling cramped. In its desire to be more universally representative, we never really get a sense of where Ellen’s trauma is rooted; the surface references make her seem more self-indulgent, and the sequence as she hits rock bottom feel trite as a result, even as the film successfully avoids feel-good cliché.