Disfigured is a tiny little movie about female body image and acceptance. It’s an extremely difficult film to qualify I must say (hence the massive delay in doing so). To be blunt, DisFigured is a movie about the clumsy, emotionally loaded friendship that grows between a very fat woman (Lydia) and a barely recovering anorexic woman (Darcy). They meet in a support group for overweight women, one that struggles to decide whether or not it’s about accepting themselves as is. Understandably, they are unsympathetic to Darcy’s dysmorphia.
Deidra Edwards plays Lydia with a depth and realism that feels like a documentary; even if sometimes her line deliveries come off as amateurish, she is extremely committed to conveying the experiences of being an overweight woman in contemporary American society. She is castigated for accepting her appearance from one camp, and equally decried for looking to change it. She gets judged for desiring sexual contact and for denying it of herself. Then we have Darcy. While I don’t know if the actress actually had an eating disorder in life, certainly convinces us that she has. She’s so very very thin, so people-pleasing and guarded.
Lydia and Darcy dance around each other, both aliens from the same planet, finding the same seeds within each other of their very different fruit. My favorite scene is them quoting to each other the horrible things that people say to them about their appearance. It’s enlightening, funny, honest, terrible, and so intimate. This sounds terrible to say, but I don’t think their character would have played as effectively if there were not such a marked contrast in their appearances.
The movie explores the universal female experience of judging others and feeling judged on one’s appearance rather than one’s merits — the terror of confronting what makes us flawed to others’ eyes and internalizing the unfavorable comparisons. These women, fighting self-hatred and societal disapproval and balancing self-care with self-indulgence, express these experiences in somewhat exaggerated terms of what every woman goes through to some degree. DisFigured is extremely effective on this level, with lots of laughs too.
From a purely technical standpoint, the sound is muddy, the camera focus goes in and out even on a static head shot, like a consumer-grade video camera, and the pace gets bogged down between the phases of Lydia and Darcy’s friendship. That said, the film is still well worth seeing even if the execution is a little choppy, because the issues explored here really attain some excellent depth. It is valuable to share ths with women and men alike. Perhaps it will remain a mystery to men why women seem to hate ourselves so disproportionately. Who knows, maybe it will start some real conversations. Check it out.
MPAA Rating Not Rated: nudity, sexuality, language, adult themes
Release date 7/29/08
Time in minutes 95
Director Glenn Gers
Studio Cinema Libre