To the Bone

Movie review by Renee Longstreet, Common Sense Media
To the Bone Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 15+

Compelling but mature drama about eating disorders.

NR 2017 107 minutes

Parents say

age 16+

Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 14+

Based on 16 reviews

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Community Reviews

age 17+

Terrible recovery model

The central message of this movie is that people with eating disorders will get better when they decide to get better and that letting them hit "rock bottom" will help them get to the point at which they will decide to get better. Lets unpack that. If just wanting a thing badly enough would give people the will power and skills to be able to accomplish their goals, would any of us be over weight, addicted, jobless, or homeless? If hitting rock bottom was a great catalyst for recovery, wouldn't addicts who have been treated with Narcan always recover? They are on death's door, isn't that rock bottom? Wouldn't people who have lost a child to the foster care system always recover? The truth is that hitting rock bottom has nothing to do with gaining the skills needed to recover. It is true that on any curve there is a lowest point before the trajectory starts an upward path, but the depth of the lowest point has no relation to whether the upward trajectory will ultimately be successful. Correlation is not causation. In this review I've typed a lot about addiction recovery, but I also have personal knowledge of eating disorder recovery. The premise in this movie that the parents are unhelpful and should therefore not be included in the recovery process is flawed. If parent and children have trouble relating, a skilled counselor can help train them how to be emotionally supportive of each other. The premise that eating disorder patients should be given the freedom to eat whatever they want is flawed. A person with disordered eating needs to learn to accept a healthy diet by facing and dealing with the emotions that arise from healthy eating. Eating nothing but peanut butter or nothing but vegetables will not help a person face their fears or learn to handle their emotions. Allowing a patient to continue to lose weight because they haven't decided they are ready to eat is flawed because a starving brain is not capable of making good decisions. This recovery center seems to believe that there is a magic number on the scale below which a person's health is in danger of the often fatal effects of starvation. There is no such magic number. Humans are unique and one person may have a stronger heart than another, while a third may have problems with lack of electrolytes from a starvation diet. People as thin as the people in this movie are in medical danger. 10-20% of people with anorexia ultimately die from it. I have seen a teenager who was not nearly as thin as the people in this movie who had a resting heart rate of 39 because her starvation diet did not provide enough calories for heart to beat faster. After she spent one day in the hospital with 3 meals, her heart rate was back up to normal (she still had a long road to recovery learning to eat enough food when not in a hospital with the threat of imminent death looming). I didn't see any examples in the movie of how a teen or young adult could better cope with the societal pressures to be thin and I don't see anything that person with an eating disorder or the loved one of a person with an eating disorder would gain from watching this movie.
age 15+

"To the Bone" review

I watched this movie, mainly because of the main characters, but I found myself immersed in the plot. I have a daughter that has been a stress eater since her father and I began having marital issues. We are divorced now which has led to other problems with her. Whether you have a child who has an eating disorder, behavioral issues or just going through teen-age everyday issues, this is a good movie to watch. It gives insight into their world and how they may see things.

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