HBO describes their documentary like this,
Eating disorders affect five million people in the U.S., and more than 10% of those diagnosed with anorexia nervosa will die from the disease. Seeking to put a human face on these sobering statistics, acclaimed photographer Lauren Greenfield went inside a Florida treatment center to tell the stories of four women who are literally dying to be thin. The devastating HBO documentary THIN reveals what she found there - and explores the issues underlying their illness.And they describe the four women followed in the film,
Brittany is a 15- year-old striving to be thin in order to gain acceptance among her peers; her struggle with eating disorders originated when she was eight, first as an over-eater, then as an anorexic and bulimic. Shelly, 25, has battled anorexia for six years, and enters Renfrew with a feeding tube surgically implanted in her stomach. Alisa, 30, is a divorced mother of two who arrives at Renfrew following five hospital stays in three months and claims she doesn't want to recover. Polly, 29, has spent years in and out of treatment and often challenges the center's policies and procedures.And how much did I pay to watch?
Netflix. (I've gotten a really good per dvd price this month because I've watched so many of them)
And what did I think?
I've really been thinking about how I can review this movie and not sound like a terrible, evil, thoughtless wench. But, I haven't really figured it out...so let the bitchiness begin!!
Well, lets do the positives first. I thought the documentary did a good job of explaining to people who don't know what an eating disorder is like. The stark images of skeletal women who think they are massively obese was well done and powerful while not beating the audience over the head. The narrative of the story and the path it followed was good (it followed the women for 6 months) also. I watched the deleted scenes on the HBO website and they should have been added to the film (I think) because they would have added a more complete documentary story for the audience.
Unfortunately there were some parts of the documentary that I really hated. And I realize its gonna make me sound really bad to say it, BUT, two of the women followed in the story were just horrible. I mean, THE WORST. Brittany was the worst, by far, but Shelly was really irritating too. That being said, the other two women were very sympathetic characters and ones that I feel the audience could really relate to. Once again, I'll start with the two good 'characters' first. Polly and Alisa were sympathetic because as an audience we could see that they really did want to get better. I guess the problem is that once the eating disorder grabbed onto them it was really hard for them to be released from it. Despite being told at the end of the film that once both women were released from the center they relapsed I think everyone would still hold out hope that they'd do better the next time. In the case of Alisa [SPOILER ALERT!!!] she relapsed and then successfully was treated, but in the case of Polly, despite having the most hopeful "once we stopped filming" update the HBO website told me that she ended up committing suicide.
Now, onto the other two. Man, Brittany was horrible. I mean, yes, she is 15, but COME ON! She came to the facility because she'd been hospitalized and her hair was falling out. When your hair starts to fall out of your head when you're only 15 YOU'VE GOT A REAL PROBLEM! And despite all the positive advice she got from all the other patients who were older than her and had been battling an ed for as long as she'd been alive she just didn't get it. A climax scene was a 28 year old telling her how she (the 28 year old) wishes her whole life had been different, that she hadn't lost her life to an eating disorder...and all Brittany could do was sit there and moan and cry about how she just wanted to be thin like all the other thin girls she sees. She sits there crying that she'll never be thin enough. Now, granted Brittany's mom had/has an ED and thats where she got it from, but in that moment when her tears sent eyeliner streaks down her 15 year old face all I could think was, "you know, you'll end up dying from anorexia and you'll totally deserve it." I mean, if she was so unwilling to listen to anyone and be so singularly concerned with her weight, I mean, what else does she have to live for?!
Shelly was a little more annoying that Brittany because she was 25. I mean, 15 year olds are stupid, but its sort of expected. Shelly just couldn't pull herself together. Whine, whine, whine about how she thought her twin sister was so much better than her and thats why she has an eating disorder. Its callous of me to say that because I have no idea how these things come up, but she just didn't take her own recovery seriously. She had had a feeding tube installed in her stomach because she couldn't eat and when she had to get it removed she was mourning the loss of an easy method of pulling food out of her stomach. I mean, someone who feels that was is obviously not serious about recovery. She left the facility, relapsed, and, bizarrely, got married.
And I think to myself....why? It was odd because it was never mentioned in the film that she was dating someone, and once again, it just demonstrated to me that recovery wasn't important.
So what is the rating? (out of 10)
Its probably pretty clear that I didn't care for the characters in this movie. And my real horror and disgust with Brittany basically ruined the movie for me. I mean, what was it supposed to show me? That some get better and some don't? I guess that is what it was supposed to communicate... but I didn't leave with any sort of positive feeling. Its like when the intervention doesn't work on Intervention. All you can do is shake your head and be dissappointed that it didn't take.
The movie wasn't that bad, it wasn't, but it wasn't that good. I am going to generously give it a 4, because as I was writing I was just more and more convinced that the movie was bad. I'm getting characters confused with the film itself, which was sufficient.