Berlinale: Min lilla syster

My Skinny Sister
Directed by Sanna Lenken
Starring Rebecka Josephson, Amy Deasismont, Annika Hallin, Henrik Norlén, Maxim Mehmet, Ellen Lindbom, Åsa Janson, Hugo Wijk and Karin de Frumerie

by Laura Patricia Jones

Growing pains and teenage struggles are a bleak time that none of us would want to go back to. The melodramas of fitting in, body image and inappropriate crushes are something everyone can relate to on some level, but the darker realms of eating disorders and sibling rivalry are what takes the forefront in Swedish director Sanna Lenken’s coming of age tale.

My Skinny Sister tells the tale of two sisters told through the eyes of the youngest Stella, as she hits that awkward age between childhood and puberty, watching her elder sister Katja blossom into a slender figure skater. Stella is not a small child and her weight and awkwardness is taunted by her sister in amusing yet cruel gestures as she develops a crush on Katja’s attractive older skating coach. Sounds like just any tale of typical sibling rivalry, but as Stella discovers Katja’s hidden eating disorder, the relationship between the pair reaches breaking point. What is powerful about this story is the very ‘real’ portrayal of an eating disorder and how it can infect an entire family making victims out of everyone. Through Katja’s body dysmorphia, she takes out her suffering cruelly on Stella, picking on her body issues and triggering Stella to question a similar pattern herself, passing on food and purging. This behaviour can be a common cruel side effect between women who live with an anorexia suffer, even though it is rarely explored – something that makes Lenken’s tale all the more believable.

The film can make difficult viewing in places, which is down to the stark realism Lenken brings to the screen in her powerful portrayal. Moments of humour provide relief, but it’s the kind of film that sticks with you. Credit here goes to the amazing performances from Rebecka Josephson as Stella and Amy Deasismont as the epitome of teenage angst queen. What works well for the film is that although it’s set in modern day Sweden, it could really be anywhere, transcending a universal issue that speaks volumes. It’s an at times uncomfortable watch, but one that will certainly leave you thinking.

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