Quick Netflix review: TO THE BONE (2017)

 

Starring: Lilly Collins (RULES DON’T APPLY [2016], THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES [2013], MIRROR MIRROR [2012]).

In support: Keanu Reeves (THE BAD BATCH [2017], THE NEON DEMON [2016], SPEED [1994], and upcoming and as-of-yet-announced release date films JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 and the untitled Bill and Ted film), Carrie Preston (EQUITY [2016], and TV shows CLAWS and TRUE BLOOD), Liana Liberato (IF I STAY [2014]), Retta (BAND AID [2017], MIDDLE SCHOOL [2016], and TV show PARKS AND REC), Alex Sharp (HOW TO TALK TO GIRLS AT PARTIES [2017]), and Leslie Bibb (IRON MAN [2008], TRICK ‘R TREAT [2007], TV show NOBODIES, and the upcoming TAG [2018]).

Writing and directing: Marti Noxon (directed 1 episode and wrote 8 episodes of GIRLFRIENDS’ GUIDE TO DIVORCE, directed 2 and wrote 25 episodes of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER / wrote I AM NUMBER FOUR [2011]). Composer: Fil Eisler (CHIPS [2017], HOW TO BE SINGLE [2016], and TV show REVENGE). Cinematographer: Richard Wong (a ton of unknown films and short films).

(SUMMARY)

The story follows Ellen (Lilly Collins), who is anorexic. In a desperate attempt to get her treatment, her stepmother Susan (Carrie Preston) tracks down Dr. William Beckham (Keanu Reeves), who wants her to be a part of his unconventional, but effective inpatient program to help treat her. Despite her reluctance, Ellen is convinced to go by her stepsister, Kelly (Liana Liberato). Soon, Ellen meets the rest of the patients who also struggle and soon begins a journey of recovery.

(REVIEW)

I was surprised by how much I like this film. It’s a staggeringly honest perspective on this subject and much of that is due to Collins’ incredible performance, arguably making this her career-best to date. At first, I kind of thought that Ellen was this cliché wise-ass that you see in every film. Thankfully, the writing knows better than to be that shallow and really gives a much more complex character. She’s not happy with her choices. It’s a deeply rooted fear brought on by so many outside factors that the movie even addresses during a great scene involving Ellen’s several mothers and stepsister, all trying to pinpoint exactly what the root of where this all came from, even though you could make the very real argument that they’re all right, or they’re all wrong. It’s never as simple as it looks. I think the biggest thing to take away from this film is that it’s not trying to be that movie that has a traditional Hollywood happy ending. It’s much more ambiguous and thought-provoking. A story about, not necessarily the recovery, but rather the journey to want to recover, and I think that’s a really unique aspect to a story like this. About the only real problem that I have with the flick is that there is a shoehorned romance that’s built up big time, but doesn’t really go anywhere by the end of it. The relationship could have been platonic and written out just fine and wouldn’t have made the film so… detoured.

But all in all, I recommend this for anyone who is curious to get a little more aware of what anorexia is and the effect is has on the individual, both physically and mentally, as well as the people around them. It’s gripping, gritty, sprinkled with some haunting imagery, but still has an edge of warmth and hope.

My honest rating for TO THE BONE: 4/5

tothebone

 

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