by Moxie McMurder
War photographer Stephanie struggles to regain a relationship with her mother and daughter after spending seven months at an eating disorder clinic in this indie drama.
Based on writer and director Lucy Brydon’s own experiences with an eating disorder, Body of Water has come out at a particularly relevant time. During lockdown leading eating disorder charity Beat, has seen a 97% rise in people contacting its helpline over the last six months.
When it comes to stories about eating disorders we are so often shown the experiences of young white women and Body of Water is only different in this regard because of Stephanie’s age, she’s 37. Played by Sian Brooke, Stephanie is painfully thin and painfully quiet, her voice rarely above a whisper. Her mother, played by Amanda Burton has started to lose patience and with that lack of patience comes a lack of support, which is exacerbated by planning her own wedding.
Stephanie’s teen daughter Pearl, is displaying worrying behaviour that mimics her mother’s disorder and is shown to be dabbling in drugs and underage sex, all of which are flying under the radar.
Mother-daughter dynamics are always an interesting subject in film but the relationship between the characters in this film lacks the depth required to really delve into this subject.
We don’t know when Stephanie’s struggles began, although we know this stay in the clinic she’s just returned from wasn’t her first. We don’t know if her disorder originated with a desire to lose weight or if it’s a symptom of needing control in her life. We know very little about Stephanie and her life beyond her disorder and that holds the film back.
The anemic washed out look of the film does little to lift it beyond the despondency of Stephanie and the lack of score leaves the film feeling stark and lifeless.
The stand out performance has to be Amanda Burton, as Stephanie’s mother she plays the role with the kind of nuance which is missing from the other characters. This is especially true in a scene at the end of the film involving a piece of wedding cake that is both cruel and totally understandable.
Body of Water is a quiet look at the strains upon those closest to us when we’re struggling with something that depends so much on our own capacity to help ourselves but this aspect of recovery isn’t explored as deeply as perhaps it should. It’s hard to tell what Brydon wants people to take away from the film other than a deep depression.
The film does little to offer hope to anyone struggling with similar issues and doesn’t dig deep enough into the minutiae of someone living with an eating disorder to really make an impact beyond the visuals.
Body of Water – In Cinemas and on Digital 16th October