To the Bone beautifully tells the story of a woman battling anorexia


Heart-wrenching. Tear-jerking. Inspiring. These are the words I would use to describe the 2017 movie To the Bone.

To the Bone is about 20-year-old Ellen Liberato, played by Lily Collins, who suffers from her never-ending battle with anorexia nervosa. Collins portrayed her role believably and brought a personal element to the character. Personally having struggled with anorexia and bulimia herself, Collins went to great lengths in order to lose weight specifically for the role. She wanted to demonstrate how real the illness is, but most importantly, she wanted to show that there is help for sufferers.

In the movie, Ellen is sent off to the seventh in-house program since her struggle with anorexia began. After constantly receiving other treatments and hospitals with no results or improvement, this program is the last resort for her. Ellen’s stepmother, played by Carrie Preston, is insistent on her receiving this care, while her father- who is never seen in the film- has appeared to give up on her. In the beginning of her stay at the house, Ellen stays reclusive and resorts back to her old tactics of avoiding help and refusing to eat. But not all hope is lost. In the movie, the viewer experiences first-hand the real and sorrowful struggles that people who suffer from eating disorders experience. In To the Bone, Ellen finds not only the help she needs but her hope and what makes life beautiful.

In the recovery house, Ellen meets other people suffering from eating disorders: Tracy (Ciara Bravo), Luke (Alex Sharp), Megan (Leslie Bibb), Pearl (Maya Eshet), and Mago (Dana Wilson). Each one has a part in helping Ellen find herself. The characters were cast perfectly, and each brought a sense of realness to the role.

The movie was absolutely touching. Not only because of its bluntness of the reality of eating disorders but also because it can relate to a variety of things. This movie is not about a woman overcoming anorexia, but about finding the beauty in life; to me, that’s the best type of movie there is.

The director, Marti Noxon- who has also directed The Glass Castle and Friday Night- wanted to create the most realistic movie possible about the battles of eating disorders. She herself also battled an eating disorder for many of her teen years. She worked with Collins to make the film as factual and genuine as it could be. I have to say, she does it beautifully. The characters dialogue seemed so real– like something you would actually hear someone say. The script was incredible, and the characters were also made believable. Ellen appeared to be battling this disorder right in front of my eyes, and at times, I was battling to keep my eyes dry.

A specific emotional scene was when Ellen imagines herself sitting on a branch, living a healthy life with all she desires. Then, she looks down to see an alternate form of herself lying on the ground, dead. She realizes that her reality is headed towards the latter fate.

Overall, I’m surprised To the Bone didn’t receive more hype. It was a poignant movie, played beautifully, and covered a controversial topic with grace and sensitivity. Considering I’ve already recommended this movie to a friend, I’d definitely say it is a must-watch.