New release Netflix original ‘To The Bone’ beautifully handles a socially uncomfortable yet common issue that society is too scared to address. An autobiographical piece by Director, Marti Noxon, ‘To The Bone’ is based on her young struggles living with an eating disorder, and eventual road to recovery. Noxon battled for years to share her story on the big screen, facing rejection from the big names in Hollywood who didn’t understand, nor connect with the story. However, after months of curation, Noxon secured funding, and teamed up with 28 year old Lily Collins, who’s had her own personal experiences with anorexia, casting her as main protagonist Ellen, a darkly humoured 20 year old who attempts radical treatment as her last resort of survival.
A disclaimer that To The Bone is not for the weak stomached as it shows considerably graphic content of what extreme anorexia can look like. A skeleton-like figure is quite frankly frightening, and it was a frightening endeavour that required Collins to lose dramatic weight to portray Ellen in such a chilling and uncanny manner. The film is shadowed by the overarching message that a eating disorder is not worth losing your life over, a message captured delicately through the lives of a team of characters that must eat in order to not only live in the literal sense, but to live to their fullest. As her parents force her to seek help from Dr. Beckham (played by Keanu Reeves), Ellen is joined by Luke (Played by Alex Sharp) a quirky retired dancer whose illness drew him away from his passion, and Megan (Played by Leslie Bibb) a girl in desperate attempt to give life to a new born. Each character works to reach their own goals and are eventually taken out of the confines of their disorder, forcing them to look at it as merely an obstacle and not a barrier.
As with 13 Reasons Why, Netflix once again sparks up a conversation that this generation needs to be having. Anorexia and suicide are both sensitive topics, however to say that they are controversial only further restricts a subject matter which is already difficult to discuss. Making it much more challenging than it should be for individuals with any disorder to be open about their problems, seek help, or be accepted in what is already a frustratingly careful society. And while society may turn a blind eye to these social issues, To The Bone accurately displays how essential commonality and mutuality is, to build a safe space in which collectively allows to converse mental illness and the ways to overcome it.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental illness, don't be afraid to have the discussion.
To The Bone is out on Netflix now.
Eating Disorders Helpline: 1300 550 236
Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14