Film Review: My Skinny Sister26 November 2015 / by Mikayla Fasullo (author)
In the Swedish film My Skinny Sister, director Sanna Lenken exposes how a mental illness can tear a family apart. The story is told from the point of view of Stella (Rebecka Josephson), sister of Katja (Amy Deasismont) who suffers from anorexia.
Stella is living in the shadow of her sister, a beautiful and talented figure skater. She looks up to her sister, and aspires to be just like her. Lenken uses scenes of the two sisters spending time together to show how much of an influence Katja has on Stella. When Katja jokes about Stella having a moustache, Stella beings to doubt her own beauty. This “perfect” sister image Stella has of Katja fades away when Katja's anorexia comes to the surface of the sister's relationship.
Themes of youth and innocence throughout the film is often shown through Stella’s sense of humor, until she discovers her sisters secret. Stella doesn’t understand anorexia and is unprepared for the affects it will have on her family. Lenken conveys that no one is prepared for mental illness and the affects that tag along with it, especially the parents, who struggle to handle their situation.
In the most horrifying and heart-wrenching scene, the family is at their cottage attempting to “cure” Katja’s illness. Lenken shows the desperation of Katjas parents as they try to force feed their daughter. This scene was almost too real - when I saw the film at Toronto's Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival, the entire audience lasped into a heavy silence for this scene.
The films approach to anorexia can relate to any other mental illness. Not only is there a stuggle for them, but there’s a struggle for the family members immensely as well. It isn’t something you can prepare yourself for, and it wont be easy but while Katja feels like she can handle her anorexia on her own, Lenken shows that it takes strength from the whole family to get through this devastating illness.