Opinion – Why I loved To The Bone

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: August 4, 2017 (Last updated: January 5, 2024)

Beware: as this is an opinion piece there will be spoilers.

To The Bone is a touching film about a young girl named Ellen (Lily Collins) battling her way through life with anorexia nervosa. The list of reasons why I like this film is endless; for me it’s definitely a film that’s on the top of the list. The main reason could have something to do with the fact that its personal to me. It touches upon the multiple times I’ve become victim to this insufferable illness.

The potrayal in the film is without a doubt the pinnacle point for me. Contrary to some people’s opinion, this offers a very grounded potrayal as to what this illness is about. At some point in the film, the line “there’s no such thing as skinny enough” hits home. Numerous times throughout the film we see Collins stripped down and resembling a skeleton more than anything else. For me this is essential. My personal worst was back in 2014. I was eating one toasted bagel every two days. This was the case for more than two/three weeks before help came in the form of my current partner. However, my point is, the portrayal of this in the film is one that couldn’t be any more accurate. There is no such thing as skinny enough. I had so many bones poking out of me I could have gouged someone’s eye out. It was physically stressful to think about preparing a meal and having to face eating it, so much so I started getting stress pains in my chest; I’d get so worked up thinking about having to eat, like it was a chore. The little things in the film really make it too, like Collins measuring her arm fat by clasping her fingers around her upper arm, taking the opportunity to walk anywhere just to burn as many calories as possible, being completely distraught when you looked at the scale to find you’ve put weight on. It’s all relevant and all so realistic.

Another point this film tackles is the preconception that anorexia is something the individual has complete control over. No one respects the huge mental block which constantly antagonises your physical health. It’s a vicious circle which outsiders seem to think can be broken with nothing more than just having the will to eat. I wished for that, begged and cried for it, for me to want to pick up food and want to eat it. I missed enjoying food. But my family, my friends and even those that did not know me judged me. I guess because to them it’s so easy, eating is such a natural instinct. It’s unfathomable that someone would refuse to eat. This is shown mostly in the form of Ellen’s sister Kelly (Liana Liberato). It’s a particular scene after a family session led by Dr William Beckham (Keanu Reaves) that we hear not only how hard Ellen’s illness has been on Kelly, but her lack of understanding as to why she just won’t eat.

The last reason I will write about is the fact that the majority of actors and actresses within the film had experience of an eating disorder. Its well documented that Collins herself suffered with anorexia just a decade ago, and threw herself into ensuring she could potray some of the most awful aspects of the illness on the screen. I can hand on heart say that this offers such an authentic feel to the film that I’m sure not even money could buy.

There is, unfortunately, one thing for me in this film that spoils it a little. Along Ellen’s (Lily Collins) journey she meets a love interest, Luke (Alex Sharp). For me, this couple feels so mismatched. They honestly feel like two corner pieces to a jigsaw that are just impossible to match. It just doesn’t work however I picture them together. As a whole, it can be forgiven.

To get back on point, this film for me introduces a refreshing outlook on what life is like with an illness that people seem to think you have full control over. It’s so down to earth yet so fun at the same time, I’d definitely recommend checking it out.