The MichaelVox Movie Review Weblog
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March 2, 2008
San Jose Cinequest Film Festival
Drama / Comedy
Are You Happy With Your Body?
This one hit me pretty hard. It is the fantastic story of an anorexic woman and an obese woman who become uneasy friends. What can either of them know about the hardships of the other? Can they come to any understanding? Can they teach each other anything? How to eat more. How to stop eating. Sexuality plays an important part in this film as the fat girl is allowed to be sexy and fragile and smart and an emotional mess. She also gets a tender and explicit love scene which is nothing short of monumental in worldwide film. An obese man and obese woman are shown pleasing each other sexually in a loving and honest way. Think about every movie you've ever seen. Now how many love scenes have you seen? Now how many of those involved non-perfect bodies? It's easy to throw around a term like "brave" at actresses who expose body and soul for a role, but Deidra Edwards as Lydia really earns that moniker.
The "recovering anorexic" is played by Staci Lawrence who has her own body-exposing scene. My own bias, and experiences of formerly being a huge person, make Darcy's concerns about not being able to gain weight make her sound a bit like a whiner. Darcy has a lengthy scene where she stares at herself in the mirror and pinches herself all over looking for fat. She is a very thin actress and there is absolutely no fat to be found, but we're not inside her head. If her body image is as bad as she says it is, who are we (am I) to say she's being ridiculous? Which is the point of this film.
There is one main male character, Bob, who comes across pretty poorly. Viewers will marvel at Director Gers ability to write as if he was a fat woman, but there are two scenes involving Bob that floored me. One will be familiar to anyone who is huge where he explains while frustrated, exactly why he's fat and why he's opted to get gastric bypass surgery. "I eat too much candy and soda and starch, I live with big people, I've been big my whole life, my parents are big", etc. Fat people who are honest will give some of the "blame" for their size to genetics, but know that they simply eat more food than they burn off. They will also admit that they don't want to be the size they are. The Fat Acceptance Support Group in the film discusses this very subject. Should fat people try to lose weight or is that a surrender to the way the world wants people (mostly women) to look? Is it giving up to diet?
The other scene with the fat guy was a quick scene where he's in a motel room and there's a knock on the door and it's a hooker and she looks at him in a disgusted manner and as she's getting undressed she says "you can't be on top" and he nods his head as if he's heard this his whole life. Where can fat people express their sexuality? Why can't they have random, embarrassing hookups like everyone else? Bob figures his only chance at momentary pleasure is with a paid partner. And even though he's paying, she sets the rules. He can't even forget his size while having sex.
Some of the dialogue when the two women argue or watch the sun set is incredibly melodramatic, but I'll look past that for a story like this that is rarely told. There is also quite a lot of humor. Lydia is a warm-hearted and attractive big girl who is quick with a joke, and Darcy is funny in a more sarcastic way. They make a funny team. The scene where Darcy cleans out Lydia's kitchen cupboards is hilarious, probably more so for anyone who's tried to get rid of all the food that's bad for them from their own kitchen.
Glenn Gers has really done something here. He and Deidra and Staci appeared for a Q & A and damn if Gers wasn't a tall thin man. How he wrote as a fat woman I'll never know. Very touching. Very honest. Very well done.
Look around you. There are more people in movie theater audiences who look like Lydia than there are people who look like Jessica Alba.