TO THE BONE
Director: Marti Noxon
Written by: Marti Noxon
Cast: Lily Collins, Alex Sharp, Keanu Reeves, Carrie Preston, Lili Taylor, Liana Liberato
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC,
Opens: July 14, 2017
Why do anorectics refuse to eat? They are sometimes skeletal, but do they think they’re fat? Do they like to be really thin? Is it because of the rewards that slimness appears to bring to women—modeling? acting? No to all. As Dr. William Beckham (Keanu Reeves) points out midway into the story, anorectics starve themselves to become numb to feeling; meaning, that something must have happened during the lives of the mostly young people who refuse to eat, and these sick folks simply do not want to feel the pain (their mothers’ indifference, perhaps).
Lily Collins stars and appears in virtually every scene as Ellen, rail-thin but not at all in a good way. Her mother Judy (Lili Taylor) left the family early on and moved away and the twenty-year-old is being tended to by her step-mom, Susan (Carrie Preston) who like Ellen’s half-sister Kelly (Liana Liberato) are understandably concerned. Though she had been in other recovery programs, Ellen agrees to try once more and enrolls herself in a program which allows her to her group therapy twice daily. Among the patients are nineteen-year-old Luke (Alex Sharp), originally from London and a member of a ballet company, who has a bad knee that sidelined him from ballet. He is to my way of looking the most obnoxious guy in the group, putting on British airs, regularly trying to be humorous through irony. He is also chasing Ellen, who is “the best thing in my life,” but Ellen is not buying. In fact she thinks people who declare their love are really narcissists, into themselves, congratulating themselves for having normal feelings for another when they feel only for themselves.
There’s nothing here that you won’t find in other pictures about young people with emotional disturbances. As for Lily Collins, she must have gone anorectic herself to fit her narrow frame into the role, but there is little particularly appealing about her, nothing that would appear to get Luke so interested in her, but what do I know? Let the target audience of young adults make their own judgments, particularly young women who might identify not necessarily with anorexia but with some other problems they have like too many zits, or whatever.
The scene that finds Judy, Ellen’s real mother, feeding her with a baby bottle and holding her on her lap to make up for her failure to do that at the more appropriate time is laughable. If you’re a fan of the TV series “The Good Fight,” the sequel to “The Good Wife,” you’ll recognize the flaky Carrie Preston and smile whenever she is on the screen. Maybe it’s time for her to explore other types of roles as well, though the red hair—not orange, mind you, but red—is as much a part of her TV identity as her name.
Director Marti Noxon does not come close to equaling her successes with episodes of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
Rated R. 107 minutes. © Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Comments, readers? Agree? Disagree? Why?
Story – C
Acting – B-
Technical – B
Overall – C+