Ellen who's sort of a celebrity in the eating-disorder community after her online artwork was cited by a girl who starved herself to death resists Beckham's tough-love measures at first, but soon settles into the house's routines and befriends the other patients. She gets particularly drawn to Luke (Alex Sharp), a ballet dancer with a damaged knee and a struggle with anorexia.
Noxon, who wrote and directed, has called "To the Bone" semi-autobiographical, because she has dealt with eating disorders in her own life. That familiarity with the subject comes through in the sharp details of Ellen's and the other patients' disorders. Noxon (who created "The Girlfriend's Guide to Divorce" and was a longtime showrunner for "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") also leavens the subject's seriousness with perfectly calibrated dark humor.
Collins gives a touching performance as a young woman who isn't sure she's worthy of being saved. She leads a strong ensemble cast that includes Alanna Ubach and Leslie Bibb. The nicest surprise is Reeves, who gives the most down-to-earth performance of his career.
Considering all the issues "To the Bone" covers, the movie easily could have devolved into a bad Lifetime movie and, even without doing so, has opened a debate about whether such movies glamorize dangerous behavior. It's a credit to Noxon's sterling wit, and her great sensitivity, that the movie delivers a powerful emotional punch as it explores a problem many are afraid to touch.
'To the Bone'
A young anorexic enters a treatment center, meeting fellow patients and a charismatic doctor, in this sensitively rendered drama.
Where • Streaming on Netflix.
When • Starting Friday, July 14.
Rating • Not rated, but probably R for nudity, sexual references, language and mature themes.
Running time • 107 minutes.