A deeply mov­ing de­but

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - YOUTH | VIBES -

Eli lit­er­ally shrinks away from this truth.

Collins and some of the other ac­tresses are so painfully thin that parts of the film are un­com­fort­able to watch. It’s also hard to see the young char­ac­ters so tor­mented and con­sumed with body im­age. One de­scribes a fa­mous (and un­ques­tion­ably thin) ac­tress as “kind of fat, don’t you think? Like at least a size 6”.

But the story is not all bleak. Noxon, a vet­eran writer and pro­ducer of such TV hits as UnREAL, Mad Men, Glee and Buffy the Vam­pire Slayer, deftly man­ages her film’s tone, blend­ing hu­mor and heart without be­ing sac­cha­rine or trite. She treats Eli’s strug­gles se­ri­ously but not too earnestly, a del­i­cate bal­ance ob­vi­ously aided by the lov­ing per­spec­tive of per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence.

The film’s op­ti­mism shines through in a mag­i­cal se­quence set inside the Los An­ge­les County Mu­seum of Art’s Rain Room ex­hibit. Beck­ham takes his pa­tients on a field trip there, and their ex­pe­ri­ence of the space where water mirac­u­lously rains down from the ceil­ing but doesn’t get vis­i­tors wet is a cin­e­matic metaphor for the de­li­cious thrill of dis­cov­ery — a perk of be­ing alive.

To the Bone is a beau­ti­ful achieve­ment. It il­lu­mi­nates the com­pul­sions and dan­gers around dis­or­dered eat­ing and the strug­gles of so many teens and adults who chan­nel their con­cerns and fears about life into ha­tred of their own bod­ies. It gives voice to the ex­pe­ri­ence of girls, who are rarely pre­pared for the on­slaught of male at­ten­tion that comes with pu­berty and ado­les­cence. It un­der­scores the im­por­tance of fam­ily, how­ever dys­func­tional. It’s a story about the dif­fi­culty of be­ing hu­man and the brav­ery it takes to grow up.

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