Feed tells the story of Olivia (Troian Bellisario), who struggles to deal with the death of her twin brother, Matthew (Tom Felton) and develops a need for control which leads her to struggle with an eating disorder.
The film was written and produced by Bellisario (and directed by Tommy Bertelsen), and deals with the delicate subject of eating disorders, in particular anorexia nervosa. In an interview with Rotten Tomatoes, Bellisario explains that while the events are not exact, she wrote the film based on her own personal experiences with the disorder. She also explains that one thing she wanted to do with the film “was to get the audience to understand what it sounds like, and what it feels like, to be struggling with that illness”, and I personally think she achieved that brilliantly, both with the writing and her performance as Olivia.
As some who has personally struggled with this eating disorder, I find it very hard to watch films based around, or including themes of, eating disorders and anorexia nervosa as many films do tend to romanticise the disorder (as is the case with many mental disorders portrayed in television and film if I am to be truly honest), but Feed avoids romaticising it in anyway and shows the disorder for what it is. So often, media portrayals about anorexia nervosa focus on an obsession to be skinny, and while true in some cases, they often avoid the truth that it is more an obsessive need for control. People have a hard time grasping that concept unless they have struggled with it themselves, and what makes this film so successful is it’s ability to highlight that as opposed to focussing on her weight loss or behaviours (they are, of course, present, they are just not focal points in the narrative really), focussing more on the root cause and psychological damage highlights the darker, more honest side that is not often depicted in films.Feed does not need to even mention ‘anorexia nervosa’ for the audience to understand what is really going on. It is a film which allows the audience to get inside the head of the sufferer, to understand that the disorder is not just about food, but rather something which takes over most aspects of life.
Perhaps one of the most interesting plot devices used in Feed, is Matt’s ‘ghost’. As Olivia struggles to come to terms with his death, she begins to see Matt in her dreams up until the point in which he crosses over and blurs her dreams and reality as she begins to see and hear him whilst awake. At first this makes the film start out like being a story about a young woman being haunted by her dead twin brother, but utimately we learn that it is a metaphor for the voice in her head, the inner demon. Eating disorders are like a trusted voice, convincing you of everything that you need to do for control, and Matt is the physical embodiment of this for Olivia. It was a less obvious, more intelligent way that allows the audience to really understand what that voice is like for individuals living with the disorder.
All in all, the film was beautifully haunting. It is an emotional, and personal story with wondeful writing, acting and directing. It depicts the ughly truth of eating disorders with a subtly that makes the experience feel much more authentic. Unfortunately, it is unlikely to get the attention it deserves, but it is a film which I implore anyone to watch.