“To the Bone” is a new Netflix original film – starring the likes of Lily Collins and Keanu Reeves – and has been met with mixed reviews. Many critics have claimed that the film glamourises eating disorders (EDs) and the film has received backlash regarding this.
However, I genuinely disagree with this perspective. I don’t believe that EDs are at all romanticised within the film but rather the harsh reality which concerns them is focused on. If anything, it is a story that promotes the concept of recovery and has the ability to start an honest conversation about mental illness and eating disorders that the mainstream media fail to explore in the depth that it deserves.
It is almost expected that a film with such a topic matter will cause controversy but I can’t help but feel as though these critics are searching for something to criticise – and, frankly, barking up the wrong tree. Too often, portrayals of mental illness in the media are met with the backlash of “romanticising” the illnesses and, unfortunately, too often this is true. Take for example another Netflix original, “Thirteen Reasons Why”, which did unfortunately – in my view – trivialise mental illness.
This reality that media often portrays romanticised and triviliased depictions of sensitive issues such as drugs, eating disorders and mental illnesses provides all the more reason for me to feel as though these critics – on both social media and within the mainstream media – are simply jumping on a bandwagon to appear “woke”. There are flaws with the film – and in turn the portrayals – of course, but this is more to do with the fact that film is an art and art is very much subjective. How someone interprets the film and the messages conveyed can honestly be drastically altered by the personal perspectives and experiences of the audience.
Likewise, the film has been criticised in not moving the conversation far enough along; in not doing enough. Whilst this may be true, I don’t believe that this is something the film should ultimately be criticised for because at least it is generating the conversation at all, which is more to say than many other films and television programs.
I came to watch the film with a slightly biased view in thinking that these critics would be right; after all, it’s unusual to find a mainstream text that delivers authentic portrayals of these issues. With that in mind, I watched the film looking for the glamorisation of these eating disorders but instead found that the harrowing story was instead offering very real and grim versions of reality.
Of course, I am one girl with one opinion, guided by my own experiences and perspectives, but I do recommend that you watch the film yourself and let me know if I’m missing something here. Please bare in mind that the topics within the film, and in turn some of the imagery, may trigger you if you have been through similar experiences.