What kind of recovery blog would this be without my added two cents on the new Netflix release, To The Bone. Probably a much better one. But since I watched it i figured I might as well post about it.
First of all: it’s a movie. It’s not a documentary or based off a true story (though they did consult with people who had/have eating disorders to try and paint a realistic picture) or a PSA. It is a movie about a girl with an eating disorder who enters a fictional treatment centre. And just like a movie or a TV show that has content, say about drugs or self-harm or other symptoms of difficult like experiences, not every single detail will be accurate so I’ll try not to get too nitpicky about those details.
Secondly: I’ll probably give some details about the movie so this is my official #spoileralert
Thirdly: I learned in treatment that the reason I’m drawn to watch shows, movies, youtube clips and to read blogs and books about eating disorders is because what I’m really looking for is connection. So perhaps that’s why you watched #tothebone or why you’re even reading my blog. It’s certainly not wrong to want and crave connection and it’s not even wrong to seek that connection out in the aforementioned ways but it is really important to notice what’s going on in your life, what are the precipitating events, and how are you feeling when you notice you are looking for that connection through movies/books/media etc. It is also really important to then seek out connection with real people and about something other than your ED or other symptoms to give it less power. I know easier said than done- but in my experience it actually does get easier. We are humans who are wired and conditioned and made to connect.
Now on to my review:
The beginning did a good job drawing me in. I felt connected to Ellen immediately. The first inpatient unit was pretty realistic to an inpatient unit I was on.
The residential facility, Threshold I think it was called, was in some ways also pretty comparible to my experience in residential treatment. The layout of the house even reminded me a little bit of where I went. I thought they did an excellent job in the diversity of individuals represented. They did their research in that area for sure. There could have been a little more diversity in the ages represented, however now that I say that I seem to recall it was for youth…anyways a variety of personalities were represented – there were introverted and extroverted types, there were giddy, perky, chatty types, there were quirky and awkward types, there were some who were annoying, some who were shy, and there were the artsy and exesential types. Each character reminded me of someone I shared time with in treatment and that was special for me. The background stories were diverse too. I would have liked them to develop this part of the plot a bit more, but I still think it was done well. One person had an athletic background, another was pregnant, some had been in treatment before and for others it was their first time, some had dysfunctional family dynamics, and there was mention of bullying, poverty, abuse and that some also struggled with other mental health challenges. There was diversity in race, culture, gender and sexuality. And, in my opinion this was the best represention of a variety of symptoms portrayed without glorifying one as better or sexier than another I have yet seen. They even mentioned there are other ways of purging after bingeing than by the oft-assumed self-induced vomiting. They showed that not everyone with an ED counts calories. They talked about laxative abuse, exercise obsession, and even had a chew and spit scene. I was quite impressed with the variety of symptoms talked about and, as I already said, I think they did a great job not representing some kind of symptom heiarchy.
One of my favourite scenes was when Ellen was struggling at a meal and left the table, a fellow patient said that she had family therapy that day and everyone else was like ‘ahhhhhh, makes sense’. Not really sure why I’d label it as a favourite, but one that has stuck with me for the past few days.
Now to what I didn’t like:
Speaking of eating a meal at the table…uhhhh in what intensive treatment centre for eating disorders do patients get to eat “whatever they want” and don’t have a meal plan?! Yeah none, and if one like that does exist then please don’t tell me otherwise. Eating disorder symptoms have to be treated at the same time as the underlying issues. Also in what world is there no meal support person at the dinner table? Oh yeah in one where an ED patient can eat “how little or how much of whatever they want” #infuriating and #laughable and I must remember it’s a fictional movie! So if you think you can eat whatever you want in treatment, please don’t be fooled 😉
I HATED the attempted romantic underplot of Ellen and what’s his name. JUST BECAUSE IT’S A MOVIE DOESNT MEAN THERE HAS TO BE A LOVE STORY. Ugh I think it took away from the whole movie. Also- WTF, seconds after Ellen tells what’s his name that she’s been sexualized since she went through puberty he goes in and kisses her as if to redeem her experience?! What was the point of this story line except to make me livid. Ugh!
I have read some controversy over the dancing in the rain scene. Obviously an eating disorder treatment centre wouldn’t bring everyone dancing as an outing, especially given the exercise obsessions of some patients or the strict bedrest for others- but like I said earlier: it’s a fictional movie and not a documentary. This scene was metaphorical and I actually really liked it. It was artistically beautiful and as viewers we were able to understand the individual characters in a different way.
Another controversial scene is the the mother-feeding-her-adult-child-who-has-an-eating-disorder-with-a-baby-bottle scene. In itself, yes totally weird and creepy. As a metaphor, I think it was actually a poetic representation of nurturing, healing, and reconciliation. But for the record, metaphor or not, I didn’t actually care for this scene myself and could have done without it.
I also didn’t like the “I almost died but had an out of body experience where what’s his name came into the experience or dream or whatever and suddenly everything made sense and I am now going to chose life and recovery and live happily ever after”
So overall, the movie was initially intriguing but I had definitely lost interest by the end.
So, I’m not going to tell you to watch it or not to watch it. In fact you have probably already decided if you will/won’t. I’m just going to encourage you to be curious about why you want to watch it and to seek out connection with the positive people you have in your life.
#eatingdisorderrecovery #eatingdisorder #recovery #tothebone #moviereview