“Disfigured” was written and directed by Glenn Gers and stars Deidra Edwards and Staci Lawrence. Deidra Edwards is Lydia dealing with being fat and Staci Lawrence is Darcy dealing with anorexia and they form an unlikely friendship after Darcy tries to join a Fat Acceptance Group since she believes she is fat. This is a must-see movie for any woman (or man for that matter) who has had any issues with body image.
This is a shockingly amazing story coming from a male writer/director. Glenn Gers really captured these women as fully rounded characters in an intimate and real way. He gives equal focus to overweight and underweight people bringing the whole message back to body image and the fact that people need to be comfortable in their own skin before they can change or they will never be happy.
The script is very accurate to how women feel about body image and does an excellent job of giving both sides a lot of time and making sure both women get to know the other’s problems more closely. Being overweight or underweight both have implications for affecting one’s life health-wise, in relationships, at work, and especially how one feels when they are alone. Their friendship and discussions help both of them begin to move toward trying to be healthier people overall without worrying about body image. Anorexia very much is a dark, painful journey that Darcy does a great job explaining emotionally in her face and words, but appears more functional than a real person would be so the viewer has to understand that while she got the emotion dead-on, it really is a lot more painful to watch physically than she could demonstrate without living it. Lydia is actually a healthier person than Darcy though it might not look that way on the outside. She is emotionally stronger and more connected to others and has the capacity to love than Darcy has lost along with all other enthusiasm for life and food.
The movie does not leave the viewer with concrete solutions other than women apparently need to get together and talk about body image to learn to accept themselves before they can change themselves (anorexics seeking therapy, fat people committing to better health, etc). The major downfall of the movie is the low budget leading to lots of handheld shaky camera which is occasionally distracting and the lighting sometimes is so bright that it looks like an actress is standing against a white background when they are in a living room with furniture in it. The sound also gets a little hard to hear sometimes.
This DVD is packed full of extras. First off, there is director and cast commentary with Glenn Gers, Deidra Edwards, Staci Lawrence, and Ryan C. Benson which is very informative about background information and facts. There is a Behind-The-Scenes feature showing off Venice Beach starting off with the story of two overweight people wanting to walk and the story developing from that and online message boards drama. It was a challenging film to shoot on the beach with lots of unwanted background noise that had to be weeded out and it was a very hot, humid shoot with lots of “night” indoor shots being taken in the daytime with black plastic over windows making it hard on the actors. Unfortunately the interview taken with Staci Lawrence is apparently in a noisy night club or something because it is very difficult to hear her. This entire feature length film was shot in fifteen days!
There is a Fat Acceptance and Eating Disorders featurette explaining what actual fat acceptance movements are about and how he took it a bit farther to make an argument. Glenn Gers hosts this portion and recommends a book title “Rethinking Thin” as a good source of information and admonishes anyone from thinking anorexia is an attractive idea before jumping to an interview segment between some experts in the field to provide some of the psychology behind the ideas from the film. One group fights for civil rights of fat people and discusses the discrimination in the workplace and elsewhere. They emphasize the movie’s message of education and communication for advancement in solving these problems. A “weight neutral” perspective is like a foreign language. Exploring anorexia, they brought forth some symptoms that weren’t shown in the film that Darcy actually would have been experiencing like coldness, hiding one’s body in bulky clothes, and a slowing down of metabolism and energy except during compulsive exercise. Darcy was a very functional anorexic in this movie and her body was shown a lot more for the viewer than actually affected people would have. The experts here vow that it is a disease one can recover from though it is widely believed that isn’t the case. It is a very informative and helpful.
The outtakes and improvisations are very funny and the deleted scenes were very informative showing more symptoms for Darcy and more of both main characters’ childhood history.