Keanu Reeves phoned-in performance as a dashing doctor is one of many low points in a film whose addressing of an important topic ranges from banal to bizarre
Here is a US drama from Netflix about anorexia, notable only for its sheer extravagant awfulness. Its a dismal TV movie of the week: trite, shallow, cautiously middlebrow and blandly complicit in the cult of female prettiness that it is supposedly criticising.
Lily Collins plays Ellen, a talented young artist and college dropout who has issues with body image and anorexia. She is sent to a community treatment facility under the care of the charismatic and revolutionary Dr William Beckham, played by Keanu Reeves. But judging from his torpid line-readings, Reeves might as well be playing a non-ass-kicking version of John Wick: none of Dr Beckhams supposed charisma is evident from this performance and there is nothing revolutionary in his clinical approach. But he is supposed to be super attractive. (When Dr Beckham arrives smartly dressed at a day out he has organised for the patients, a gay patient unironically asks if he wants to turn her straight.)
Ellens backstory is fraught with carefully packaged emotional pain. Her mom, Judy (Lili Taylor), has gone to live with another woman, and now Ellen stays with her chivvying stepmother and her dad. Weirdly, this dad doesnt feature in the family therapy scene and never appears in the film. Ellens art about herself has apparently inspired another woman with anorexia to take her own life. Collins reacts to this appalling tragedy with mild consternation, as if someone has said something lame about her on Instagram. But the movie is very squeamish about actually showing us these supposedly radical and shocking images, or telling us anything substantial about her troubled admirer.
As for the other patients, they are the usual smorgasbord of cut-out personalities, as seen in movies such as Girl, Interrupted, itself a lite version of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. Ellen finds an emotional connection with a quirky British dancer, Luke (Alex Sharp), and encouraged by Dr Beckham (in a particularly implausible moment that pokes up from a nest of unbelievability) she experiments with changing her identity and her name, calling herself Eli.
Eventually, Eli must come to terms with her relationship with Judy, and the film features a scene in which she is redemptively fed by her with a babys bottle, a spectacle that does succeed in being climactically bizarre, at any rate. At the end of the film, precisely nothing useful or insightful is said about anorexia or anything else.
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