Thoughts on: To the Bone

This week Netflix released an original movie, To the Bone. I watched a trailer for it last week and instantly decided I wanted to watch it. To the Bone is directed by Marti Noxon and it’s about a twenty year old woman, Ellen (played by Lily Collins) as she struggles with anorexia nervosa.

ToTheBonePosterBefore I go into what I thought about the movie, I wanted to put out a huge disclaimer. I do not personally have an ED (eating disorder) or know anyone close to me who has one. I am not knowledgeable on the subject nor do I claim to be. I truly went into this just trying to learn and understand the characters’ experiences during the movie. Just wanted a short disclaimer as I am reviewing this from a perspective that is completely on the outside of things.

Anyway, onward! There was a lot I liked about the movie. For instance, I loved Lily Collins as Ellen. I thought she did an amazing job in the role and I felt really immersed in her character. I’ve heard some critics say that she felt “too beautiful” and may give some the wrong idea by glamorizing or idealizing an eating disorder. I have to say that I did not have this same reaction. I mean, I agree, she is very beautiful. However, for me, I still felt haunted by her appearance and found it frankly disturbing to watch her at her lowest weights. I also thought it is important to note that Lily Collins has suffered with anorexia previously in her life and I thought she brought a lot of that emotion to the role.

I also liked the humor that played throughout the movie. I know, comedy in a movie that centers around eating disorders may seem a little misplaced; however, it worked great here. The movie is full with sarcasm and bitter dialogue that just propel the movie forward. I think the humor is what helps take it out of just feeling like a Lifetime movie. Instead, it feels more mature, grown up, dark, realistic. It definitely works in favor of To the Bone.

Perhaps, my favorite part of the movie was the fact that there was that there wasn’t a clear cut explanation for why Ellen (later christened Eli) became anorexic. It’s clear she has issues on both sides of her family (her mother and her notably absent father) and they have issues with one another (see: her mother and stepmother) and I think it’s safe to say that her half-sister (although, clearly caring and invested in Ellen’s health) also has some hard feelings toward her. Ellen also is clearly dealing with the emotional aftermath of a horrible incident after she publishes some of her artwork on Tumblr. Of course, these are just some of the most obvious problems Ellen faces; however, none of these are necessarily the cause. Yes, they contribute, but To the Bone doesn’t try to make an easy diagnosis regarding why Ellen is anorexic, because the truth is, there is no one, easy answer.

Lastly, I really thought the ending was well done (note: spoilers in this paragraph.) The ending did not seem unrealistic or like it was a fairytale ending. It felt very true to life. In the end, Ellen/Eli wasn’t miraculously cured. She wasn’t completely healthy living her own life. She didn’t begin to date Luke. She wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t your happily ever after. What you did get though was an ending where Ellen/Eli is finally willing to get better and fight for her life. She tells her half-sister and step-mom that she’s going to be okay, and although we’ve heard her say this several times throughout the movie, it’s the first time the audience is inclined to believe her. I think if things had been tied up too nicely at the end, it would take away from the movie’s integrity. It’s meant to show that sometimes, just deciding to finally fight for yourself, IS enough of a happy ending. In this case, it certainly felt like it to me.

On to what I did not like about the movie. I felt that almost all the secondary characters were completely flat. I felt like we had these characters who lived in the Threshold house and we only got like one or two traits/characteristics about themselves and that was completely it. It all felt so flat to me and didn’t work. I kind of felt the same with her family. It felt like too many characters and not enough time to really delve in and flesh some of the characters out. So while Ellen felt well rounded everyone else just lacked in comparison.

Another thing I did not like about the movie was Luke’s entire plot line. While I felt that he had the potential to be a well rounded character and a foil to Ellen’s, instead it went off slightly onto another path. When he became the love interest, I had to roll my eyes. I felt like it was just too cliche for me. Instead of him just being her friend and supporting her, it had to turn romantic. Plus, it felt so forced between them, I just didn’t feel the chemistry there and it all just felt so off place. I thought a friendship between them would have been much more powerful and less cliche.

Overall, I did enjoy To the Bone. There was a lot I liked about the movie and if you feel like you’re on the same wavelength as me, I’d go as far as to say you’d enjoy the movie too. However, in this case, my dislikes felt intricate to the plot and made the entire story just feel like it lacked depth.

Rating:
For above reasons, I gave it a C+ or a 3/5.

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Links:
Watch the Trailer Here | Interview with both Collins and Noxon | Lily Collins Memoir

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Book Review: Station Eleven

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Author:
Emily St. John Mandel

Genre: Science Fiction/ Post-Apocalyptic fiction

Published: September 2014

Series: Standalone

Description: Kirsten Raymonde will never forget the night Arthur Leander, the famous Hollywood actor, had a heart attack on stage during a production of King Lear. That was the night when a devastating flu pandemic arrived in the city, and within weeks, civilization as we know it came to an end.

Twenty years later, Kirsten moves between the settlements of the altered world with a small troupe of actors and musicians. They call themselves The Traveling Symphony, and they have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive. But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who will threaten the tiny band’s existence. And as the story takes off, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, the strange twist of fate that connects them all will be revealed.

Overall thoughts: I went into Station Eleven knowing nothing about it. I had never heard of the book or the author before and I received the book as a birthday gift. I read the back synopsis and was anticipating a typical “dystopian” book. What I found was so much more.

The novel is post-apocalyptic so in that sense it fits the “dystopian” genre. A flu pandemic has ravaged the world as we know it and life looks much, much different for Kirsten and The Traveling Symphony (and everyone else.) However, it’s the way that the author describes this post-apocalyptic life that felt refreshing and eerie at the same time. There were sections in the novel that force the reader to introspectively look at their lives. Imagine a world where children are born into a life and have never known electricity, running water, airplanes, e-mail, or refrigerators. A world were there are no doctors, firemen, policemen. No government. No books, newspapers, authors, painters, musicals, movies. (You get the point.) While this is scary, Mandel takes it a step further. Now imagine you’ve known all of it and it gets ripped away from you. You constantly yearn for normalcy, to “go home” yet home no longer exists and never will.

This isn’t your normal dystopian novel. There isn’t an uprising against a corrupt government. There is no “cure” for the Georgia flu. No one sweeps in to save the day.

What you do have though is an amazingly well-written science fiction/dystopian fiction novel. The characters are complex and flawed. Their stories are sad and heavy, while also being light and hopeful. There is a connection between almost everyone and the interwoven relationships are an amazing tether as the book is written in both past and present and focus on different characters.

My favorite aspect of this book is the actual “Station Eleven” within the novel and how it plays out for so many characters and connects them together. Can’t say much more without spoiling it, just trust me on this one.

This book definitely doesn’t spell everything out to the reader, which I praise it for. There are aspects of the novel’s plot and the characters that the reader must interpret and figure out for themselves. Mandel does it in a beautiful way that puts the building blocks in place, but doesn’t over-explain anything. It’s just great.

Overall, if you’re looking for a great post-apocalyptic novel, check out Station Eleven. 

Rating: 4/5
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*(The only reason it isn’t a full 5/5 is because I just wanted more about the Georgia flu. I felt like it was never really explained what it was or what happened. I fully understand this explanation was not necessary for the plot and it wasn’t what the novel was about. However, you know what they say, curiosity killed the cat. I just felt like I was so intrigued, I wanted more. I understand the characters didn’t really have the answers, but I just felt like this piece was just missing a little for me. Still can’t recommend this book enough though!!)

Links: Find it on Amazon | Author Website|
Nathan Burton, illustrator of featured comic

Book Review: The Hating Game

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Author:
Sally Thorne

Genre: Contemporary Romance / New Adult

Published: August 9, 2016

Series: Standalone

Description: Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

Overall thoughts: I really enjoyed The Hating Game. I tried to read it a few months ago but couldn’t get past the first few pages. The beginning was a lot of background information and I was more interested in other books at the time so I put it down. But I am so, beyond happy that I picked it back up because I loved it. The Hating Game has easily become one of my favorite contemporary novels of all time. (And snaps to Sally Thorne because it’s her debut novel!!!!)

Although, The Hating Game clearly plays into the enemies-to-lovers trope, it doesn’t feel cliche. At all. They “hate” each other but it feels real. I didn’t think the “hate” was irrational and annoying like in similar books that I’ve read. Their banter and communication made the dislike feel natural and understandable to the reader. Plus, who didn’t love the hilarious banter?

Actually, probably the best aspect (in my opinion) about this book is the humor. It was full of witty banter that made me easily fall in love with both the main characters. The dialogue was just so fun to read. This is a book that will definitely make you laugh out loud and has amazing one liners and quotes.

Lucy is an amazing main character. She feels real and I really related with her anxiety and “freaking out” that she deals with throughout the book. I loved how she was driven, ambitious, and confident. However, she was also insecure, lonely, and anxious. She felt like a fully developed character — like someone you truly could meet in real life. Not to mention Lucy’s clothes and smurf collection were just great to read. She was kinda nerdy but in the best way.

Of course, Josh was a great, complex character as well. I loved learning about him as Lucy did, layer by layer. He was flawed but that made me like him more. He was a great balance to Lucy and easily become one of my top #bookboyfriends.

If you’re considering purchasing The Hating Game or are in the market for a great contemporary read… what are you waiting for?! You won’t regret it. It’s a book filled with complex characters, witty banter, and a few plot twists along the way.

Rating: 5/5
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Links: Find it on Amazon || Author Facebook Page ||
Look out for Sally Thorne’s new novel, The Comfort Zone