|Available for streaming on|
Amazon Prime as of 7/28/14
Director Lauren Greenfield decided to not have any narration, and just let the cameras roll. So, except for a few narrative scripts on the screen we have to fill in the gaps by what the girls are actually saying to each other and to their caregivers.
It almost feels like a really long episode of MTV's The Real World with a little bit of anorexia and bulimia thrown in. This is not necessarily a bad thing. But it made it seem a little shallow when it comes to understanding the actual disease.
What I got from this film is that an eating disorder is a mental disorder. The girls will lie, cheat, and steal to get their fix. In this case their fix is the high they feel from purging, not eating, or over exercising. They want to get better, for the most part, but their obsession and compulsion combined with a horrible body image simply will not allow them to just use will-power to make it work. I can hear people yelling at their screen "Just eat!!!". But if only it were that easy. I can relate to them some with the hypochondria and "bad thought" OCD that I had on a very minor scale in my younger days. It's not a switch you can just turn off.
It makes for compelling viewing. But it felt like watching addicts trying to kick heroin for 90 minutes. And if you are an Emetophobic like I am, Caution: You will see people vomit numerous times during this film.
Eventually all 4 of the girls who are the main subjects are forced to leave the facility either because their insurance runs out, or they were breaking the rules of the facility, which, of course, are very strict.
I don't want to spoil anything, but at least one of the post-scripts at the end of the film is very sad. But there are some that are happy as well.
Overall the film did a lot of the right things that compel you to want to watch to the end. There were some things that maybe could have been done better. For instance they gave very little camera time to the girls that seemed to be causing no trouble, and were actually benefiting from the program. To someone who is suffering from an eating disorder it may have left you feeling pretty hopeless. But then again, that may not have been the point of the film. Watching someone who avoids drama, and excels at getting better doesn't get you awards at film festivals.
I give this documentary...3 stars