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Sundance Review: To The Bone

In To The Bone, Lily Collins plays Ellen, a girl struggling to overcome her anorexia. Apart from her half-sister, her family seems helpless to try to understand her or see her as anything more than a problem to be solved. Ellen has a lot of unresolved issues with her broken family, which makes her feel like her anorexia is the one thing she has control over. Her mother left her father and became a lesbian, marrying her best friend. Her father is too busy to ever bother seeing her but did have the time to remarry a woman she has no connection with. Her stepmom, whom she can't stand, is left with the task of watching Ellen and her only solace is her half-sister. Fed up with Ellen's inability to change, her step-mother seeks the help of a renowned new doctor (Keanu Reeves) to enroll Ellen in a different kind of therapy in hopes of curing her anorexia once and for all.

Some of the structure of To The Bone feels somewhat familiar, while other parts feel fresh. The movie follows Ellen as she struggles to feel at home with the new system she's entered, yet is able to bond with some of the people around her...which feels like something I've seen before in many an indie film. However, I don't feel like I do see many films that tackle anorexia so I appreciated having a window to look through and learn more about the mindset of someone who struggles with that. What makes the movie work though is the wit of the script combined with Lily Collins wonderful performance. She gives her all to the role, including dangerously transforming her body for it. The family aspect of the film I enjoyed, but for some reason I never really felt much of a connection to the other girls (and guy) that were also in the program with Ellen. One storyline includes a romance that the film kinda hinges on, and I just couldn't buy it. While not everything in this film works for me, Collins' performance makes the film worthwhile.

To The Bone is a nice dramedy, but didn't exactly break new ground for me. If some of the supporting parts had had either a different person cast or more depth to them, I probably would have liked the film more as a whole, because I would have bought how much these relationships affected her. Still, there's plenty here that's worthwhile to see from Collins' performance to the insights of anorexia as well as the extreme harm of unresolved family stress. RATING: 8/10

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