TKP©®™: To the Bone

TKP

Keanu had two movies come out this summer, both of which were written and directed by women. The first, The Bad Batch, appears to be a dystopian future tale about some castoffs living in the desert. There may or may not be cannibalism involved and I think Keanu plays a cult leader called The Dream. I don’t need to shake a Magic 8-Ball to know that the odds of me seeing this anytime soon are not good.

The second summer film is our focus for today. A Netflix Original, To the Bone is the creation of Marti Noxon and is based on her history with eating disorders. She was a showrunner on Buffy the Vampire Slayer; I’m guessing people were unhappy with some of her choices, because her Twitter bio reads: “I ruined Buffy and I will RUIN YOU TOO.” So how did this film turn out? Also, guess who (kind of) learned how to make gifs?!

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Keanu plays a supporting role in this movie: Dr. William Beckham is a highly sought after doctor known for unconventional treatments to help people struggling with eating disorders. I know this because the movie tells us this is so, not because they actually show any radical treatment process. He is a straight shooter, so maybe it counts as unconventional for a doctor to curse and call patients out on their bullshit. The only real character development is that Dr. Beckham has intimacy issues and is married to his job because he can’t and/or won’t put in the effort to have a relationship.

But really the movie is about Ellen, played by Lily Collins (daughter of Phil). She’s a smart ass who gets herself kicked out of eating disorder rehab because she doesn’t seem to take anything seriously. People are worried about how thin she is because she refuses to eat, but her dad (who never appears onscreen) has buried himself in work and her mom moved to Arizona. So it falls to her stepmom, played by the amazing Carrie Preston (shout out to the best character on The Good Wife) to deal with her problems. I know I’m getting old because I totally identify with the stepmom in this movie, as much as she nags and says the wrong thing sometimes and is annoying. But she’s the only one who shows up for Ellen! And she’s trying to help her while also making excuses for her absentee husband in an (unsucessful) attempt to keep Ellen from noticing that her dad is checked out.

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The stepmom is the one who gets her in to see the hunky Dr. Beckham, who insists that Ellen live in a treatment house with six other patients. The bulk of this movie is a window into the struggles that people with eating disorders face in trying to get better. For me, the big takeaway was how hard it is on the people who love them and are helpless to do anything. I think the film does a good job showing that there is no one cause of these illnesses, and no magic cure. It’s not as easy as just eating, because their brains rebel against the thought of ingesting calories. It’s also not just about being thin.

The real standout of this movie is Alex Sharp, who won a Tony for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. He steals the show every time he’s on screen, and that’s saying a lot because he’s involved in the very unfortunate romantic plot line that threatened to derail this whole film. But kudos to Noxon for recognizing that men can suffer from eating disorders as well.

Keanu does his best to help his patients, even taking them out to visit LACMA’s famed Rain Room. When he shows up to meet them outside the museum, one of the girls says “Damn, Dr. Beck! Are you trying to turn me straight?” and Dr. Beckham deadpans, “That’s a different program.” It’s a little creepy but he did look really good so I’ll allow it.

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He tries to get through to Ellen and doesn’t pull any punches about the fact that if she doesn’t change, she’s going to end up dead. But he can’t force her to want to get better. It takes an out-of-body experience for her to look at her emaciated body and decide that she needs to fight for her life. And so the movie ends with her returning to the treatment house in Los Angeles. A hopeful note, but not a guaranteed happy ending.

Much controversy surrounds this movie, but a lot of that started before anyone had seen it, just because of the subject matter. People are worried that it glamorizes anorexia, that the beautiful Lily Collins will be used as “thinspiration,” and that the film will be instructional in the unhealthy habits of eating disorders. I can’t say that it won’t, but I do know there are already plenty of sources on the internet for that stuff.

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Anyone who sees what happens to Ellen and aspires to that is probably already struggling with these issues, because she looks terrible by the end of the movie. Noxon says they worked with a nutritionist to help Lily lose weight in a healthy manner, and used make up and special effects. Statistics estimate between eight and 30 million people in the United States struggle with eating disorders; ignoring this topic isn’t going to change that. So if a writer/director and leading actress with personal experience want to make a film that tells a story they think needed to be told, I’m not in a position to contradict them.

What do you guys think? Is it okay for this movie to exist? Apart from that, is it even any good?

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20 Responses to TKP©®™: To the Bone

  1. welcometocostcoiloveyou says:

    I thought the first half of the movie was pretty great. I have no personal experience with eating disorders, but I have been in therapy for a LONG time for my OCD, and I saw some things that I could relate to.

    I thought the residential treatment program scenes were very well done. I did an intensive outpatient program for OCD, so I didn’t live there, but each morning, we did a check in very similar to the people in the movie. We had family sessions, group sessions, art therapy, etc.

    Also, the relationships between the patients felt very truthful to me.

    There is a weird bond you form when you are in a room with a bunch of people who are going through what you are going through. I could relate to the simultaneous pride and horror of someone overcoming their illness. When one of the patients started eating more than she usually would, you could tell the group was happy for her, but also they couldn’t imagine doing it themselves.

    When two of the female patients were discussing how they limit their calories, I could remember having the same hushed conversations with other patients at my program. “Oh, you wash your hands after that, too?” “Your scared of that? I totally get that because I’m scared of this.” etc.

    The movie lost me from the point when they went to the Rain Room. It started getting a lot more “Lifetime movie” at that point. I did not like the romantic plot line, partly because the guy was pretty pushy to Ellen. The actor definitely gave a good performance, but I could see why Ellen was kind of freaked out by his advances.

    I did not like the scenes when Ellen visited her mom. The bottle feeding was a little too weird, although maybe that is actually a good form of therapy, so who am I to judge?

    Overall, I think it was a fine movie. It might be hard to watch for someone who is struggling with eating disorders, but I don’t think the movie should not exist because it could be upsetting. I really liked that they had a variety of genders, races, ages, and body types in the treatment program.

    I hope a movie like this makes people feel less alone or inspires them to get help.

    • Yes, I agree with you on all fronts! The mom scene was so weird, to be honest I thought she meant she was going to breast feed her at first because it was so odd. Then the out-of-body sequence had such an unusual tone, but I read the director had an experience like that in her struggle so if she was trying to recreate her story then who am I to judge.

      I notice that you neglected to share your thoughts on Keanu. Is it too unrealistic for a doctor to be so handsome?

      • welcometocostcoiloveyou says:

        I would certainly not want a doctor that handsome! No offense to any of my doctors, but none of them are as good looking as Keanu. Keanu was so good looking in this movie that I was afraid that he would be involved romantically with Ellen. Thank god they didn’t do that!

  2. Quick note to our blog parents – this was my first time scheduling a post. I set it to go at 9 am to have a break before the 12:30 post, but I don’t know if it went on ET or PT? Do I need to set it for 6 am my time?

    • The blog settings are on Eastern Time, so if you choose 9 AM, it should have gone up at 9 AM Eastern. I have no idea if this happened, though, because I’ve been gone all day. And FRQ might have adjusted the scheduling. In conclusion, I am no help at all.

  3. hotspur says:

    Lily Collins being so pretty reminds me that I need to lose some weight, you guys. That is what I think sometimes when I see a photo of a pretty actress: I need to slim down or she will not be into me when we inevitably one day find ourselves trapped together in the Just Tires waiting room. Luckily, as part of my summer-long cleanup project, I swiffered my floor two days ago, so I can do situps again! That’ll help. I also just ate a slice of this crispy raisin bread with big sugar crystals on it that is sometimes free in the kitchen here at work. It appears according to no discernible pattern and I am powerless to resist it. Maybe the CEO requests one piece on random mornings and the kitchen workers are like, “Fuck. I guess put the rest of the package out for the regular people?” Advantage: Me. Also, Disadvantage: Me. (And, ultimately, Lily Collins?) I have not seen this movie but these are my very relevant current thoughts.

  4. flanny says:

    Maybe I’ll watch this right now as I’m waiting for the second time for my repairman to come. I SEE HIS TRUCK DRIVING AROUND WHY ISN’T HE COMING TO MY BUILDING?????

    • flanny says:

      This is not a good take-away from this movie, but my middle name is Ellen and I’ve always hated my first name and wished Ellen was actually my first name. So when this movie started and her name was Ellen, I literlaly had the thought, “God, I wish my name my Ellen. She’s so lucky.” And then halfway through there’s all this hating on the name Ellen?!?!? EXCUSE ME??? That’s real rich coming from a Marti-with-an-i.

  5. catweazle says:

    This was on my shortlist for Sundance but I think it was playing at the same time as something I wanted to see more. I’ll try to catch it on Netflix though!

    • Did you get to watch any movies with stars around? Are the streets of Park City just filled with celebrities during Sundance?

      • catweazle says:

        Tickets for Park City screenings were stupid expensive so I only saw stuff in Salt Lake City, but most of the movies I saw had Q&As with cast and crew. The most star-studded one was for The Big Sick. Kumail Nanjiani, Emily Gordon, Judd Apatow, Michael Showalter, Ray Romano and Holly Hunter were all there.

  6. taoreader says:

    Sometimes I think I’m the only lady left who likes a clean-cut guy. Keanu is supremely adorable, but it’s short-hair, clean-shaven Speed Keanu that I’m into. Is that not in now, with all the extreme beards and man-buns? I don’t want an extreme lumberjack beard near my face.

    • welcometocostcoiloveyou says:

      I don’t mind a beard, but I hate when there is excessive hair on the neck. I can’t find a good photo example, but Joseph Fiennes in the Handmaid’s Tale has a wardrobe and attitude of upper class, but then his neck is all ratty with stubble. Of course, his character is gross and evil, but that isn’t the point. Shave your damn neck! You are on TV.

    • gnidrah says:

      With you all the percents. If I’m shaving, you’re shaving, furry-face man.

  7. John Wick 2 best movie of the year

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