Sundance Film Festival 2017
Sundance Film Festival 2017
The surprisingly funny and engaging story of Ellen (Lily Collins), a 20-year old girl battling anorexia, who with the help of a non-traditional doctor (Keanu Reeves) is able to navigate the challenges of her addiction and find the path to choosing life.
Reviews from Sundance
...To The Bone’s dive into mental health is weighty but did I mention it’s also very funny? There are frank jokes about masturbation! There’s cute flirting! There’s a drawing of a pregnant unicorn! Are you not yet entertained?
To the Bone is a masterclass in taking a deeply felt, personal story and dramatizing it into a stylish, strange, and powerful film. It’s a moving exploration of a disease that affects millions and is often misjudged as vanity rather than a true illness deserving of treatment. It’s unafraid to incorporate weird, specific details that can come with anorexia, such as being bottle-fed as an adult. It never underestimates the work it takes to live healthily in the world. In doing so, it argues something I believe to be true, which is that when it comes to advice and healing, what others say to you can never be as effective as what you say to yourself....
...this is mostly Collins’s movie, and she holds it well, navigating a volatile, fragile emotional landscape with subtlety and insight. She’s perfectly in-step with Noxon’s filmmaking, which eschews the goop of easy sentiment, instead favoring a wry, weary frankness.
- Vanity Fair
An emaciated Lily Collins is absolutely superb as a young woman battling anorexia through the aid of an unconventional doctor (Keanu Reeves) and an inpatient program comprising a handful of colorful patients with similar conditions. Writer and director Marti Noxon isn’t afraid to bring much needed laughs to the table, and this is a key to the film’s overall success, because “To the Bone” dares to wring humor out of very serious subject matter.
...it plays gracefully, thanks to the honesty of Noxon’s approach; she recognizes that moments of high emotion can be both powerful and a little silly, and isn’t afraid of that duality...
...there is a lot of passion in this project, from the clear physical conditioning that Collins and her cast put themselves through to be true to this story, to the way that Noxon doesn’t pull back from showing how life-threatening these disorders can be, but that there are real people in each case. I’m happy that "To the Bone" exists, and that it's recently been acquired by Netflix for mass-viewing. The movie deserves a large audience, whether for viewers to empathize with others or to address their own pain.
DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT, TO THE BONE
Despite being a bit of a skeptic, I do believe in signs. There have been one after another in the making of this movie. Like the moment I sat down with Lily Collins and we noticed that we both had tattoos on our left wrists with the initials “L J” in them. Hers for Lilly and her middle name Jane, mine for Lane and Jed — the names of my children. We had more in common than that, but it was an immediate signal that we were destined to know each other.
Also there’s a sequence in the script that revolves around a tree isolated in a desert. When I wrote it, I saw it quite clearly. As if I had been there. It felt real. But when it came time to make the film, we were in a bind. How do we deal with that flipping tree? In the middle of no place? One that needs to be less than an hour away from LA, and — oh yeah — we only have one day to shoot the desert. Impossible. On a location scout, I just had an … instinct ... and led a bunch of impatient folks around a corner — and there it was. Almost exactly what I saw in my mind. Just on the edge of the park we ended up shooting in. We thanked that magic tree a lot the day we shot there.
There are others. They keep lining up, little lights along the runway.
It’s not unlike when I was 16, living in a room in my father’s garage, getting rides to Children’s Hospital, literally starving myself and waiting for life to end — or begin. Anything but go on the way I had been. One night I felt my heart stop. I left my body. And then I got a light on the runway. Not a voice so much as a knowing, that told me I could leave. I could die if I wanted to. Or I could stay. And if I stayed I had a lot more to do.
I decided to stay. From that day on, part of me believed I had more to do.
Some of that is being a mother. A friend. A huge part, it turns out, is being an artist. "To the Bone" is the culmination of something, but it also feels like the beginning of something so exciting for me. I had the honor to direct the brilliant cast, and to learn every day from our D.P. Rich Wong, as well as our amazing crew and producers. I can not wait to direct again, now with more confidence to follow my instincts — to find the next magic tree.
Making "To The Bone" feels like the fulfillment of a promise made long ago in the dark. To live and explore. And I hope, more than anything, to share stories that can help people and allow them to feel less alone.