To the Bone is a journey through the lives of several young people with eating disorders. It’s hard and tough, but ends on a note of hope. The film was written and directed by Marti Noxon and stars Lily Collins. Both these women have revealed their own struggles with eating disorders. You can see the film on Netflix.
I have no personal experience with eating disorders, but To the Bone felt close to reality to me. Lily Collins did a terrific job. Although she did lose weight for the film, I fervently hope that some of the shots of her that were nothing but skin and bones were digitally created.
Ellen (Lily Collins) suffered from anorexia nervosa. When the film begins she’s living with her stepmother (Carrie Preston), her father who never appears, and her stepsister (Liana Liberato). She’s been in and out of treatment programs and sent away by her biological mother (Lili Taylor) and mom’s girlfriend (Brooke Smith) because they couldn’t deal with her.
Ellen’s family life is totally dysfunctional. In addition, a piece of her art that she posted on Tumblr was blamed for the death of one of her followers. That upset her.
Somehow she’s come out of every treatment program even thinner and has reached the point where her disease brings her close to death.
The family decides to put Ellen in the care of a controversial doctor, Dr. Beckham (Keanu Reeves), who has had success where others haven’t.
Dr. Beckham puts Ellen in a residential unit. Not everyone there has anorexia nervosa. Other eating disorders are treated, too. They are under the eye of a no nonsense woman named Lobo (Retta) who knows every trick in the book.
It isn’t only women in treatment. Luke (Alex Sharp), as aspiring dancer with an injured knee, is also a resident. Ellen and Luke connect. They are both witty and smart and somehow fit together and understand each other. Luke is doing well, gaining weight, rehabbing his knee. He tries to help Ellen learn to eat.
Dr. Beckham’s approach is that his patients need to be allowed to reach rock bottom so that they can decide to live, to stay alive. I won’t reveal the last 3rd of the film, but it involves Ellen’s first hopeful steps toward recovery.
I thought To the Bone was powerful and scary. The story was told by people who have been there, done that. They knew the truth in this story. Would it be triggering for people suffering from eating disorders? I don’t know. It isn’t an easy film for anyone to watch, but it approached the characters with great tenderness.
Here’s the trailer.
Have you seen this film from 2017? What are your thoughts about it?