“To The Bone” Movie Review


To The Bone is a Netflix film detailing the struggles of a young woman with anorexia nervosa. After leaving an in-patient program, Ellen returns to her father and step-mother’s home where she is convinced by her younger sister to try out a program one last time. It is an in-patient program with 7 others living in a house together, all with their own severe battles with eating disorders. Ellen is reluctant to buy-in to the program, run by Dr. Beckham who has more of an unorthodox approach to recovery. Although she starts to get better, Ellen flees the program when a run-in with another one of the patients turns romantic. She goes to her mother’s, now at a point close to death. Her mother accepts Ellen’s choice of death, but tries one last effort to get her to see the destruction she is causing to her body. After this Ellen has a dream/hallucination in which she is finally able to see what she is doing to herself. Following this, she checks back into the program with Dr. Beckham finally choosing to heal herself.


To The Bone offers a unique look at the often non-linear process of recovering from an eating disorder. A common misconception when it comes to recovery is that the first time that someone checks into a program, that is the only time that they will need to be in an in or out patient program. The journey that Ellen (or Eli as she starts to go by during the film) is very reflective of those who suffer with eating disorders.

As it is a lifelong process of consciously choosing recovery and finding what works for each person. The un-orthodox treatment that Ellen finds herself in demonstrates the fact that mental health treatment is not “one-size fits all.” A lot of the history surrounding mental health treatment, from asylums to medications to community based help is focused on one single treatment option, particularly in the earlier years of recognition of mental health. To The Bone helps to signify the more recent shift of a holistic and individualized approach to treatment of mental illness.

Focusing on the ways that each person takes to a certain approach is an important progression in the field of mental health treatment. Seeing it be addressed in a cultural film broadens the awareness of people to mental health as well, giving more people an understanding of what it means to suffer and recover.