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Lbs – Movie – Film Review

 

GOING BEYOND FOOD OBSESSION

 

pic - LbsMovie Review

by William Gooch

published March 28, 2010

 

Lbs

not rated

now playing in New York

opens April 9 in Boston, April 23 in Minneapolis, and May 7 in Washington DC

 

America is obsessed with food and body image.  Although these two polar opposites often fight for center stage, in Lbs, director Matthew Bonafacio demonstrates that our love of food and obsession with youthful vim and vigor is not what drives this schizophrenic fetish.

 

After being hospitalized for a small heart attack two days before his sister’s wedding, and dealing with family drama over the rescheduling of the wedding, 315-pound Neil Perota (Carmine Famiglietti) decides to escape his self-indulging parent’s home and his Italian Brooklyn enclave, move to woodsy, rural upstate New York and kick his all-consuming food addiction. With the help of his drug-addicted friend Sacco (Michael Aronov), Neil embarks on a journey of independence and self-discovery.

 

Matthew Bonafacio brilliantly details Neil’s life in a broken-down mobile home while he struggles with body image, loneliness and what his life is without the comfort food that has soothed his insecurities. Because of his obesity, Neil has never danced in public, dated or engaged in any rigorous physical pursuits. All that changes while left to contemplate his situation in the sparsely populated Sihouchie County. Yet, Bonafacio makes Lbs not just about food obsession or body image. Bonafacio brilliantly crafts a story about the consequences of living an unfulfilled life impeded by addictions and fear.

 

This charming, poignant look at a man’s struggle to deal with his own self-created demons, though flawed at times, succeeds because it does not use obesity as the central message. Obesity and its debilitating consequences only serve as a catalyst to examine deeper life issues.

 

As Neil Perota, Carmine Famiglietta delivers a nuanced and authentic portrayal of a man struggling with his own self-image and denial of possibilities for growth and happiness. We see him evolve from someone whose central raison d’etre is consumption of as much food as possible, to someone who is willing to test the waters and see what life holds for him. All his happens before there is any major weight loss. And as Sacco, Michael Aronov is convincing as a heroin addict with a heart of gold, who can’t get past his seedy past and dysfunctional upbringing.

 

Bonafacio inserts a verbal diatribe between Sacco and Neil in which they slash each other about their addictions. “ A high is serenity without guilt … we feel less guilt because half the world thinks drugs is cool,” opines Sacco.  Neil counters back by adding, “Nobody is threatened when I come around. There is something cool about threatening people … No one is threatened by the fat guy, it’s not like we are going to take your girlfriend.”

 

It has taken a while for this 2004 Sundance Film Festival favorite to make it to a theatrical release, but Lbs is definitely worth the wait. And Lbs causes reflection and introspection into the many things that, try as we may, sometimes are hard to overcome.

 

williamgooch @ stageandcinema.com

 

 
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