Ecstasy (Êxtase) Image

Ecstasy (Êxtase)

By Ray Lobo | April 1, 2021

Clara’s move to Brasilia, the loss of the activist community orbiting around her and her mother, and the desire to regain access to her mother trigger feelings of powerlessness and loneliness for Clara. She cannot regain control of the lost bonds that gave her a sense of identity. What she can control is her body through food intake. She loses her menstrual cycle but gains a mental taxonomy that categorizes food. It becomes increasingly clear that Clara wants to escape her body, become weightless, a pure spirit, a sort of saint.

Ecstasy is not an easy watch given the subject matter, but it is absolutely an aesthetic experience worth having. The movie weaves its narrative around the topic of anorexia without simplifying it, without making a spectacle out of it, without insulting its audience’s intelligence. It is most effective when tying the personal to the political. Instead of taking the typical path of linking anorexia to depictions of women’s bodies in advertising and the media, its analysis of anorexia is much more profound.

“…not an easy watch given the subject matter, but it is absolutely an aesthetic experience worth having.”

If politics is about controlling populations, disciplining masses both corporally and ideologically, anorexia is an attempt, as dysfunctional and injurious as it may be, to domesticate the body along personal lines willfully. If politics and culture produce standards of femininity and beauty upon the body, anorexia is an attempt to erase the body. Passoni masterfully brings together theme, image, and sound throughout the documentary. Her filming of bodies performing ballet and images of muscles in an anatomy museum gives the documentary a haunting and universal feel. That atmosphere is enhanced by David Lynch and Lykke Li’s music, which is both dark electronic sounds and more upbeat pop. Passoni makes every aspect of the movie cohere.

Ecstasy brought to mind one of Matteo Garrone’s early works, First Love (Primo Amore). In that film, the lead character transfers his obsessive psychopathology onto his girlfriend and makes her lose a lot of weight. This experimental cinematic undertaking may be an even more frightening depiction of anorexia because the anorexia is not exacted from some figure on the outside. It is imposed from the inside as a refusal against outside demands that demand conformity. That makes the anorexia depicted here all the more problematic and all the more tragic. Passoni has enlightened us all.

Ecstasy (Êxtase) (2021)

Directed: Moara Passoni

Written: Moara Passoni, David Barker, Fernando Epstein

Starring: Alice Vilares, Gigi Paladino, Sara Antunes, Victoria Maranho, Susana Priz, etc.

Movie score: 9/10

Ecstasy (Êxtase) Image

"…weaves its narrative around the topic of anorexia without simplifying it..."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon