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When this movie started, its unique audiovisuals struck me as impressionistic, emotive, even effective.  They seemed to conjure a mood of quiet perversion that veiled the tragedy of Karen Carpenter’s unhealthy psychosis, coupling tacky cinematic staging motifs (likely a symptom of its historical moment) with a jarring tale that still resonates with many young girls today.  The use of Barbie dolls can even be a case for “post-digital” creativity, in which the seemingly best tool (the penultimate symbol of perverse, inhuman perfection) or medium, was chosen for the task (“the medium is the message” etc).  But I truly believe, even after our conversations in class and in section, that this exaggerated stylization caustically influences those on the periphery looking into the afflicted’s concaved world.

There are couple of angles I want to take to explain my minority opinion.  Firstly, the film suffers from a mortal ideological wound: Central Conflict.  The narrative arc of the film voraciously follows this protagonist, garnishing her character flaws for the audience to devour.  This “athletic fiction” inflicted upon the film addicts the audience to the thralls of Karen’s conflict, anxiously awaiting to see her regurgitate any progress, and detracts from the central issue or the possibility for a more intricate lattice of interpersonal relationships to crystallize in the audience’s mind.

This post-digital melding of vintage hisses and overexposed images obliterates the potentiality of the photographic unconscious by saturating it with a hunger for protagonist centered combat; the resulting ontological vacuum its audience is sucked into betrays the intersecting forces that make eating disorders such a complex and harrowing issue.

If this is the message of the medium, to feast upon psychological tragedy turned fetish, then perhaps these artistic choices were warranted; but if the directors really cared about shedding light upon eating disorders, they would have exercised more tact when raping Karen’s struggles.