Body Of Water review: a powerful handling of eating disorders

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Sian Brooke headlines the excellent Body Of Water, the debut feature from writer/director Lucy Brydon – and here’s our review.

Eating disorders are something most of us are aware of, especially with the ongoing discussion of the impact of social media and celebrity culture. This is then reflected in the way eating disorders have been portrayed in movies – with the focus on teenage girls – such as Heathers and Girl Interrupted.

Writer/director Lucy Brydon’s feature debut Body Of Water then is a crucial watch, refusing to accept this narrative, cutting through the stereotypes and bringing visibility to the truths of anorexia, the psychiatric disorder that here in the UK has the highest mortality rate.

The film follows Stephanie, a successful woman in her 30s who is grappling with an eating disorder. Leaving a care facility, she is thrust into the real world, where she struggles not only with her anorexia, but with her relationships with her mother and daughter, both of which have splintered because of her illness. This focus is important, as not only does it highlight how eating disorders can affect anyone of any age, but it also emphasizes the wide impact they can have, tearing apart relationships and seeping through generations.

It’s a condition Brydon understands the nuances of and treats with sensitivity, also drawing from personal experiences as both she and family members have been affected by eating disorders. Long takes focusing on Stephanie as she eats alone at her dinner table highlight her isolation in her battle, whilst the detailed sound design features slow chewing and rumbling stomachs that emphasize the amount of effort it takes for Stephanie to have a bite.

Although this is an intimate portrayal, the camera is also restrained, treating the character with dignity, almost giving her privacy at times, recognising it is a personal battle.

Actor Sian Brooke is outstanding in the lead role, portraying Stephanie as a strong yet vulnerable woman, and one who is desperate to not only break free from the cycle, but also form a bond with her teenage daughter. Fabienne Piolini-Castle is great as Stephanie’s daughter Pearl, who despite her rebellious exterior also longs to form a relationship with her estranged mother. And rounding off the trio is Amanda Burton as Stephanie’s mother Susan, who also delivers fantastic work.

These brilliant performances combined with Brydon’s compassionate script and bold direction make for a powerful drama, and one that is all the more impactful considering the honest and non-judgemental way it analyses an often-misunderstood condition.


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