Êxtase [Ecstasy] (2020)

Director: Moara Passoni
Writer: David Barker, Fernando Epstein, Moara Passoni
Cast: Victória Maranho, Gigi Paladino, Alice Valares
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 6.12.2020

Content Note: anorexia

A young girl, soon woman (Victória Maranho), tries to find her place in the world. But there is not much she can control – except what she eats or doesn’t eat.

Êxtase is a deeply personal and very in-depth look at the world through the eyes of an anorectic girl, somewhere between fiction and documentary and far from the usual clichés of just “thinking that she is too fat”.

The film poster showing a young woman (Victoria Maranho) laying sideways on the floor. Only her head can be seen in a circular blue cutout over a white background.

From what I gather, Passoni herself had anorexia when she was younger but she is doing fine now. She certainly used her experience wisely in the way she made this film, mixing fact and fiction by having a fictional protagonist played by actors, but drawing on her and other women’s experiences and research to not so much explain outright, as give an impression of what anorexia does.

If you’ve experienced anorexia yourself, you will probably find yourself again in the film. I was lucky enough not to have first-hand knowledge of it, but I am a little familiar with it second-hand, so I was aware that mostly anorexia is about control – controling yourself to the utmost as a way to experience power in a world that is often uncertain and working to take away your power. But with Passoni’s film that more theoretical knowledge got a more emotional flavor for me. It became more personal.

A young woman (Victoria Maranho) walking through a passage.

The film tells its story in fragments. Narratively it jumps in time for its protagonist. Visually and on the sound-level it often focuses on details, and then jumbles them together. This way, it is also recreating the fragmented state of its protagonist. Or maybe the state the protagonist would like to achieve.

It’s an impressive, impressionistic film that conveys much more than any simple theoretical examination of anorexia could ever communicate.

The face of a young woman (Victoria Maranho) superimposed in double exposure over a subway station.

Summarizing: Very interesting and well done.

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