Body Of Water ****
Starring: Sian Brooke, Amanda Burton, Fabienne Piolini-Castle, Kazia Pelka
Dieector: Lucy Brydon
Steph (Brooke) has been battling with an eating disorder for most of her adult life. Discharged from hospital, she returns to the house of her mother (Burton), who is preparing to marry her long-term girlfriend (Pelka). Her daughter (Piolini-Catle) is now fifteen and a wayward child, who stays out late with boys much older than herself, drinking and wandering the streets of their desolate seaside town. As Steph tries to reassert herself as a mother and mend the wounds in her relationship with her mother, the three generations of women battle with each other, all while Steph continues the struggle with her own demons.
This is one of the most striking depictions of eating disorders I’ve seen on screen. Unabashedly we watch Steph sitting at the dinner table, reluctantly grazing on vegetables as she barely contains the battle inside her mind. Sian Brooke is remarkable here, with a wholly restrained performance, where the anguish hides deep behind her eyes, evident only through stiffness and vacant expressions. She is never really present, even though we know how hard she is trying really hard to be.
Amanda Burton is superb as the matriarch, all smiles and etiquette until the façade slips with a little alcohol. Fabienne Piolini-Castle makes for a suitably devil-may-care adolescent, but both she and her grandmother are products of the destructive force living inside Steph. As her nurse keeps reminding her, it is the illness that is controlling her, but her family struggle to separate her eating disorder from who she is.
All is not well in their household as they head toward the wedding and the rising tension between them all will, of course, overshadow the nuptials. But in late scenes in which we see Steph’s eating disorder in full flow, we finally see the tragedy of her battle in full unflinching view. A grim film about family dysfunction, this is painful realism crafted with real but brutal care.
UK Release: 16th October 2020 in cinemas and On Demand, released by Verve Pictures.