Film Review: TO THE BONE ( USA 2017)

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

to the boneA young woman is dealing with anorexia. She meets an unconventional doctor who challenges her to face her condition and embrace life.

Director: Marti Noxon
Writer: Marti Noxon
Stars: Lily Collins, Keanu Reeves, Leslie Bibb

Review by Gilbert Seah
 
The credits both opening and closing proudly announces TO THE BONE a film about anorexia, the eating disorder a Netflix original movie. It has been proclaimed that Netflix gets to make films studios are scared to make. This definitely holds true for this depressing, unglamorous project on a subject suffering from anorexia and shunned by her family. But TO THE BONE is so bad that one wonders if the studios could foresee the fact.

One would expect more from director Noxon and lead star Lili Collins who both suffer from the disorder. But the film glamourizes the illness in the way Collins looks so beautiful in every scene and everything she does appears ok and everyone else especially her stepmother is wrong. But unforgivable is the fact that the film is a really boring exercise from start to end. It does not help with the weird ending in which her real mother, Susan (Lili Taylor) feeds her milk from a baby bottle and a fantasy scene in which Ellen she’s herself nude on the ground, presumably dead.

It is hard to judge Collin’s performance when the film is this awful. Taylor does the best she can and Keanu Reeves has the odd role as Ellen’s charismatic doctor who is supposed to a do wonders with his unconventional methods. “I’m not going to treat you if you do not want to live!” He tells Ellen the first time he interviews her.

The story follows teenager Ellen who has dropped out of college. Her stepmother, Judy who lives with her real dad wants her to be cured from her anorexia. But Judy is shown as a very intolerant and bad mother, always criticizing poor Ellen and downright silly, making silly assumptions that Ellen and her stepsister always laugh about. So, Ellen is convinced to go to this medical facility led by Dr. William Beckam (Reeves). There is nothing in the film that shows him to be revolutionary in his treatment. His insistence of telling Ellen’s inner voice to ‘ f*** soft is laughable if not downright unbelievable. The facility consists of an assortment of skinny patients that are there to make Ellen look good. The subplot of Ellen having a romantic fling with the one boy, Luke (Alex Sharp), who wants to be a singer/dancer leads nowhere.

The film at least looks crisp and clear, especially with the desert landscape at the end, courtesy of cinematographer Richard Wong. Music is decent with an original song near the end.

But the film teaches nothing about anorexia nor does it offer any real insight on the people suffering from it. The least the script could have done is provide some medical information on the subject. The film also inserts unnecessary new age material. Ellen’s mother is a lesbian. In one scene, she praises her own breakdown saying people should have them to learn from them. Susan also puts a Ellen in a tent with no electricity with kerosene lamps for light and a bedpan if one need to go do their stuff. Ellen (or Eli, since she changes her name half way through the film for no proper reason) has not come out of life any smarter and neither has the audience.

Trailer: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=705yRfs6Dbs

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

Film Review: AWAKENING THE ZODIAC (Canada 2017)

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

awakening the zodiacThe story follows a down-on-their-luck couple who discovers a serial killer’s film reels.

Director: Jonathan Wright
Writers: Jennifer Archer, Mike Horrigan
Stars: Shane West, Leslie Bibb, Matt Craven

Review by Gilbert Seah

The Zodiac killer, who threatened the San Francisco area was as famous as Jack the Ripper was in London, in the day which was not too long ago. Zodiac’s murders were accompanied by taunting letters to the police, along with evidence of the crimes. When Zodiac threatened to attack school busses, authorities had police cars follow the busses. But more important of all, Zodiac went further by accompanying his letters with ciphers, which he claimed contained clues to his identity. Zodiac is believed to have killed between 7 and 12 people in California between 1966 and 1971. The last Zodiac letter was received by police in 1974. This is where the film AWAKENING THE ZODIAC takes its inspiration.

Following history, police investigated over 2500 people but no one was ever arrested. One famous suspect was Editor Richard Gaiowski, and this person is referenced in the film.

It all begins when a down on their luck couple Mick Branson (Shane West) and Zoe (Leslie Bibb) discover a reel of what they think is the murderer’s tapes. This happens, when they pay for the contents of a storage locker, the owner of which defaulted on its contents after not paying the rental fees. This is a sorry excuse for the script, which never achieves the status of its source material. Mick and Zoe wish to split the $100,000 reward money with Harvey (Matt Craven) for what their think is relevant information on the Zodiac killer. Harvey is an encrypting expert and he can figure out the name of the killer since the killer’s name is supposed to be encrypted in his coded letters.

Mick, Zoe and Harvey investigate while the Zodiac killer strikes again. For all that the film is worth, director Wright’s film deteriorates into a slasher film in which it ends with the slasher, in this case the Zodiac killer, chasing after Zoe, running for dear life in the dark, while defending herself the best she can. There is nothing new in the climax of this film that has not been seen already in countless horror films.

The only fairly interesting thing about the story is the relationship of the couple. They are broke. Zoe keeps falling for Mick’s get rich quick schemes that either never work or are extremely dangerous. It is interesting to see how the couple have different reactions once disaster strikes. When the Zodiac killer appears for example, Zoe wants to to get out while Mick wishes to confront the killer head on with a baseball bat. Zoe is always mad at Mick but Mick can always calm her down with hints of sex. It is an interesting relationship, one which I am sure exists in many couples in which loser needs another loser in order to survive.

Harvey decrypts the code much too easily for comfort. If the police are unable to identify the Zodiac killer after investigating 2500 suspects, it is difficult to believe the killer’s identity compromised by the couple.

This is one of those weird films made in Canada based on American source material. The main leads are American while Craven is Canadian. The only well-known name in the cast is Stephen McHattie who plays the Zodiac killer.

As a thriller, AWAKENING THE ZODIAC is a pretty steady snooze.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0rtR2EQliE

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com