Netflix Film About Anorexia Sparks Debate

Some say 'To the Bone' is important, others call it harmful
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2017 9:29 AM CDT

Director Marti Noxon has been open about her past struggles with eating disorders and says she hopes her new film starring Lily Collins as Ellen, a young woman suffering from anorexia, will "serve as a conversation starter about an issue that's too often clouded by secrecy and misconceptions," the Guardian noted in June. But ahead of To the Bone's release Friday on Netflix, plenty are discussing whether the film does more harm than good. Some reactions:

  • Though To the Bone currently has an 81% rating from 21 critics on Rotten Tomatoes, Peter Bradshaw says it's "notable only for its sheer extravagant awfulness." Writing at the Guardian, he calls the film "trite, shallow, cautiously middlebrow, and blandly complicit in the cult of female prettiness that it is supposedly criticizing."
  • Ignatiy Vishnevetsky at the AV Club notes "how little the movie actually addresses Ellen's condition" and leaves the impression only of "a pretty face" and "a body hung in chic, loose clothes."
  • Christine Morgan of the Butterfly Foundation, which offers support for eating disorders, adds the film's "graphic representations" raise "a very real risk of copycat behavior," per the Huffington Post. She wants to see Netflix add a warning to the film.

  • Kristina Saffran of Project Heal, which helps fund treatment for people suffering from eating disorders, offers a different take. "Triggers are everywhere in eating disorder recovery," she tells the Washington Post, adding "it would have been impossible to make any sort of film that didn't have the potential to trigger somebody who is struggling."
  • Per the AP, Claire Mysko of the National Eating Disorders Association notes eating disorders are a "serious public health issue" that will affect 30 million Americans in their lifetimes, so "having eating disorders discussed on a national platform like this is really important."
  • The film isn't just important, but also really good, adds Tomris Laffly at Film Journal International. It's "refreshingly well-considered," portrays eating disorders as "addiction-related mental and physical ailments that rob people of a normal life," and is "ultimately optimistic," she writes.
  • But specific concerns have been made about Collins, who has admitted to struggling with eating disorders and had to lose weight for the role of Ellen, reports USA Today. Collins, however, says the weight loss was necessary "to tell this story" and done safely with oversight from a nutritionist, filmmakers, and her mother.
(More movies stories.)

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