To the Bone

To the Bone

Running Time: 
107 minutes

Netflix is no stranger when it comes to controversial subject matter. Their series 13 Reasons Why didn’t sugar coat topics like suicide, bullying, and even rape as it addressed them head on. To the Bone is the latest Netflix Original to be released and gives a heartbreaking and emotional glimpse into what it’s like living with anorexia. While the film’s story is a work of fiction, both director Marti Noxon and lead actor Lily Collins have battled with the eating disorder in their personal lives, giving it a much more intimate and insightful feel. At times it can be a hard watch, but it’s well worth it in the end.


Ellen (Lily Collins) suffers from anorexia and has been to all the doctors, therapists, and in-patient programs there are but her stubbornness and inability to confront her illness has gotten her kicked out of them all. In a last ditch effort, her family gets her into one of the best programs run by Dr. William Beckham (Keanu Reeves) where she’ll live with six others who are all dealing with their own struggles with anorexia. It’s her last chance to get better before she ends up dying.


To the Bone is a harrowing film that portrays anorexia as the devastating illness that it is. At the heart of the film is Ellen, a young girl whose troubled life has sent her down this debilitating path. Her parents divorced. Her father never spends times with her, while her mother left her and the family for another woman. There’s not just a single cause, as Dr. Beckham states. The film does a great job at exploring Ellen and the rest of the girls (and one guy) at the in-patient house. Anorexia isn’t treated as some taboo subject that must not be mentioned. It’s confronted head on. You quickly learn to understand each of these characters and the decisions they’ve made.


While the subject matter may be heavy and, at times, rather bleak, I was surprised to see that there was also a lot of humor to ease the tension and lighten the mood. It’s a dark kinda humor, but it fits the narrative well and honestly makes the characters feel more authentic. Everything isn’t about anorexia all the time. There’s even a somewhat charming, although cliché, romance thrown into the mix.


The entire cast is wonderful, but I have to give a special nod to both Lily Collins and Keanu Reeves. They are superb; Collins especially. She’s able to bring a raw emotion to the role that could have easily spiralled out of control in the hands of another. It is without a doubt her best performance yet.


As difficult as it may be, To the Bone is well worth the watch. Like 13 Reasons Why, it shines an informative light on a rarely touched upon subject in film. While it does follow some standard Hollywood troupes, it will leave you captivated and perhaps even a little bit more informed about anorexia.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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