I was apprehensive when I saw this film advertised. It is a subject some choose to avoid, to not believe this is a condition for many in society or too afraid to approach this subject matter on the big screen. It is also one that could easily be written about wrongly, so understandably there was a great deal of apprehension regarding it. It either goes to the extreme for the shock factor of its viewers, or the approach of this movie, “To the Bone” which delivers a complex consideration in the mental health of the disease.
It is raw and it’s beautiful in all its subtleties of delivering the core of the emotions and thought patterns for someone suffering with Anorexia Nervosa, and the emotions of many that are in the environment of someone struggling with it. I did question prior watching it if a movie would ever be long enough to deliver the complexity of this disease to its viewers. Can it educate besides the story telling aspect of a movie without making it just a story, because this is real life for many and not entertainment?
When I saw Producer & Writer Marti Noxon was behind this, Directing and writing the Film, I had to put aside any preconceptions as an admirer of many previous works. I hadn’t known at the time of watching it that Noxon was a sufferer of an Eating Disorder, along with Lily Collins, Ellen in “To the Bone”. Along with the viewers watching it, it must have been challenging to depict a time so personal in their lives on screen. That, along with being an actress portraying a girl with an eating disorder when herself suffered in real life. The film touched upon many aspects of the mentally challenging issues that contribute or become the result of a eating disorder, almost humanizing the viewer into this realisation educating what it is like for some suffering.
Along with Lily Collins with the aid of a nutritionist losing weight for her role as Ellen, It would have also been the Make-up artists job to enhance the emaciation of the character. There are some great talented make-up artists behind this who have a long history in Film & Tv having worked on some of the biggest most known Films & Tv series.
The work of additional make-up artist Ann- Maree Hurley who has worked on programs from Fear The Walking Dead, to Films such as Pirates of the Caribbean. Then also we have the Department head Eryan Krueger Mekash, someone I have been aware of since the start of American Horror Story. Her work is Fantastic and continues to work within some big names in motion picture.
Both these make-up artists within the make-up department create a subtle beauty in the extremism of anorexia’s visually daunting appearance. The emaciation of the actor’s and their protruding bones and the discolouration seen on all the actor’s is uncomfortable enough through the realism created. The art of emaciation through make-up was truly delivered to aid our subconscious to believe the story of the actors, assisting our visual knowledge as the somewhat visually educated viewer.
Due to the emaciation seen in this film being subtle in parts and executed beautifully, preconceptions regarding any shock factor was eradicated, leaving a seamless blend between the harsh reality of the condition, along with keeping the severity of anorexia subtle enough visually removing strong visual triggers and any shock factors. Any scene with the emaciated body were kept short and cold in the colour grading department in those scenes from what I noticed watching it. Seeing enough for the viewer to feel uncomfortable forcing an emotional reaction through understanding, but also not lose track of the story. Some parts of the story could have been elaborated much more, which questions that perhaps relaying this subject matter through film risks not having the capability to cover all angles of the condition? That is where the subject matter becomes the strong reality of real life, and perhaps not the complete story we watch unravel throughout the film. This film touches on areas of which some may not understand about the condition, but it does not educate a great deal in all aspects of it and the full effect on the mentally damaging effect it has. This most certainly opens the doors in this area of mental health being brought forward onto the screen through film and educating an audience.
Putting the writing and the direction in the acting and make-up department aside, the film was not overwhelming. It was executed thoughtfully in relation to touching upon a subject matter which comes with much negativity, because it holds many “trigger risks” in subject matter and emotions as a result. The truth of the matter is simply that this condition is not spoken about enough and greatly misunderstood. The Film, possibly a pinch of salt into the world of Eating Disorders. It has been created with a great deal of heart and survivors of the very footsteps this film talks about.
There is a film called ” Feed ” which releases July 18th Digitally Worldwide which has been reviewed to supposedly go deeper into the mental control within Anorexia Nervosa . Written by Troian Bellisario, If you are Interested in seeing how this subject matter is delivered to the screen.