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Movie Review: Lbs.

“Monday came. Alright, Monday came and I started. And I’m going to go back and I’m going to tell everybody that Monday came and I’m getting it done.  How many times, it might be 1,000. But on 1,001 I started.”                      -Neil Perota

Yesterday I watched a movie that struck a strong chord within me: Lbs., directed by Matthew Bonifacio and starring Carmine Famiglietti. Maybe it’s because I saw a little bit of myself played out in the main character. Granted I was never as overweight as the lead, nor were my parents force feeding me sausage and peppers.  But the feelings exhibited by Neil during his multi-month journey to find peace with his health, his weight and ultimately his own self-worth ring true. Confidence when taking my shirt off at the beach. Wanting to feel happy in my own skin. Growing up in a house where food served an emotional role, especially for my mother.  I close my eyes and can imagine myself going down the same path as Neil, had I made different choices almost eight years ago.

When you dissect Lbs. as a movie, the cinematography was fine, the script was a bit clichéd and some of the characters were almost caricatures of the “type” of people you’d deal with on a path like Neil’s.  But sometimes you need to be hit upside the head with an exaggerated dose of reality to realize how sabotaging these environments can be in real life.  The drug addict best friend, which drew out the parallels between drug addiction and food addiction. The parent and family who present love through food. The social scene focused on food. The relationship that could never be. The love interest who only cares about the skin deep. The pursuit of health for others rather than for self. The process of transformation.

It’s all there, presented in a 90-minute film that documents a 100-pound weight loss that inspires respect for the effort and commitment required for personal transformation.  Rarely is weight loss the grand event TV makes it out to be.  It’s hard work and difficulty.  Fits and starts.  Learning and failing and getting back up.  What makes the weight loss amazing is that the filming of Lbs. occurred over two years, as the actor who played the main character Neil actually lost the weight himself.  From what I’ve dug up on the film, it appears Bonifacio and Famiglietti are good friends from NYC, and the film was partially a documentary of Carmine’s own desire to lose weight.  You can read more at IFC’s interview with the director here.

But the best part of the movie, the absolute best part, is the ending.  It sums up the efforts of countless people in America and across the world where food is more than fuel.  Food is stress.  Food is comfort.  Food is happiness.  Food is guilt.  Food is life…or is it?

You can watch the film on Netflix or buy the DVD here:

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