My Skinny Sister tells the story of a teenage girl who discovers her older sister, whom she admires, has an eating disorder. Filmmaker Sanna Lenken, who had already dealt with this topic in her short film Eating Lunch (2013), brings to life the havoc anorexia causes in a family with gentleness and a pinch of humour.
Stella, played by the talented newcomer Rebecka Josephson, is the ugly duckling of the family. Sensitive and eager to be taken seriously, Stella spends her days writing poems about her sister´s trainer Jacob (Maxim Mehmet), with whom she´s secretly in love. But it’s her sister Katja (pop singer and actress Amy Diamond), a beautiful and accomplished ice skater, who gets everyone´s attention. Not without a bit of jealousy, Stella tries to imitate her, but soon realises Katja´s apparent happiness hides a secret.
Lenken indulges in the relationship between Stella and Katja, which comes alive through their complicity and their fights, holding the story together and filling it with tenderness. Despite the strong bond between the two girls, the parents feel somehow disconnected from what´s happening, so their reactions seem somewhat out of place at times.
The script also omits much discussion of the causes of Katja´s disease, which are only hinted at but never stated clearly. While this can be justified by the fact that the story is told from Stella´s point of view, it doesn´t allow the audience to truly grasp the psychology behind anorexia, making Katja´s outbursts feel completely irrational. Nevertheless, Lenke manages to get across the difficulties and the pain that eating disorders cause, not only in the sick person themselves, but also in those around them.
Tender and fresh, My Skinny Sister is a story about love, jealousy and betrayal which shines new light on eating disorders and the body image that many young women today struggle to achieve.
Words by Sara Mendez
My Skinny Sister screens at the BFI London Film Festival on the 14th and 17th October.