Louis Theroux: Talking to Annorexia

Did we actually just see the deadpan documentarian, Louis Theroux with a tear in his eye?

Delving into two of London’s biggest eating disorder treatment facilities, Theroux takes a sensitive approach in providing us with a saddening insight into the insidious and destructive illness that is anorexia. He describes the disorder as a ‘dark friend’ as it seeps into the sufferer’s minds, telling them that they aren’t really ill. This makes recovery for the patients a truly difficult process, taking an average of 7 years, which leaves them feeling mentally deteriorated. The documentary highlights how everyone irrespective of age, ethnicity, or background can be affected. Whilst Janet (aged 63) talks of how anorexia has left her unable to live a normal life, the future looks a little brighter for the younger Rosie who looks to be making progress by the end of the episode.

However, one critic (Tom Quinn), points out the fact that it only focuses on women fighting anorexia, when men suffer from eating disorders as well. It could also be said that Louis was a little too invasive as he hovers in the room where Rosie uncomfortably tries to eat her dinner. However, Louis is still not a prurient filmmaker as when Ifzana tries desperately not to break down when reminded of the bullying she’d experienced growing up, Louis simply sits patiently next to her on the bench, not pushing for further details.

Once again Louis doesn’t disappoint, he illustrates the complex and idiosyncratic relationship between sufferers and the disease, as his gently probing, soft voice and incredulous eyebrows encourages the women to open up about their gruelling battle with anorexia.


Jenny Spence

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