Valencia (Naomie Feliu) and her younger brother Marcos (Carlos C. Torres) work on a farm with their father (Jaime Alvarez). Working daily to a back-breaking extreme, problems arise when an inspector (Maria Elena Laas) arrives to question the migrant workers to make sure they are all legal. Despite their father’s instructions to say that they are 12, Valencia decides to give their real age.
Erin Li’s short film To The Bone is a tale of innocent rebellion, albeit one with severe consequences. Valencia’s disobedience does not come from a place of malice towards her father, but rather the actions of a child that has seen a life of nothing but work, and thinks that she may’ve found a way out of that life. Unfortunately, reality is not as pleasant as Valencia may imagine.
The film could’ve gone bleak and sad and ended there, but it also makes a statement about family and sticking together no matter what. Though Val’s father may be upset that his daughter disobeyed him to such a degree, he sees it for what it is too, and doesn’t feel anger as much as sadness that he can’t provide a better option for his children than to work alongside him on a farm. In that way, for all the external negative consequences that arise, the family becomes stronger as a result. It’s a heartwarming resolution amid sad conditions.