Notes: International Rainbow Pictures
Martine: Nelly Alard
Helaine: Lisa Richards (from Dark Shadows)
Kate: Mary Crosby (she shot J.R.)
Mother: Frances Bergen
Sophie: Gwen Welles
Sadie: Marlena Giovi
Nancy: Elizabeth Kemp
With Toni Basil
Written and Directed: Henry Jaglom
Summary: Helaine is celebrating her 40th birthday by having
a party at her home. Simultaneously, her friend Sadie, a talent
agent, is turning 50 and her friend Kate, apparently happily married
and inspiring of jealousy, is turning 30. Helaine's husband promises
by phone to come later, but turns out to be having an affair and
will not arrive. Sophie, another friend, is vicious, jealous,
and destructive. Sadie's daughter Jennifer has an eating disorder.
Helaine's sister Nancy does also. The sisters' mother stops by
and is invited to stay: she seems to be the only mentally healthy
woman regaring food, but our opinion of her is modified when she
advises Helaine to overlook her husband's affair as she and her
generation used to do. Helaine's French houseguest, Martine, is
filming Californian women's attitudes about food and it is revealed
that she is motivated by an eating disorder in her own past.
The power of this film is in listening to the women speak to Martine's
camera about food. "I'm having a delicious time."
ready yet but can I get you something?" (Helaine). "It's
the safest sex you can have -- eating" (Jennifer). "It's
like eating their ideals." "It's eating at me"
"He really likes you." "He sneaks me food."
"If they feed you they like you."
"I'm no longer involved with food." "I was the
apple of my father's eye." "I wear clothes to conceal
it" (Nancy). "Sweetness was something I was addicted
to because I didn't have that in my life." "You're making
me eat; you're making me eat. You're making me sick" (Helaine
Food is compared to an abusive lover. These women feel themselves to be "at the mercy of food" as opposed to "normal people." Sex used to be the taboo subject, but now it's food.
Commentary: Food sweeps every aspect of this nation's culture.
Whether it is advertising for the food itself, professional sports
leagues, restaurants, hotels, even video games, the focus of Americans
is on food. The movie Eating brings a different aspect
of food to the forefront: women obsessing over it.
Along with all the food advertisements on television are the weight-loss
programs promising perfect bodies if you try their product. The
ice cream shop is strategically placed next to the gyms to entice
those just having finished a workout and feeling they deserve
a "reward." This whole cycle of eating, wanting to lose
weight, and envying the bodies of people on television is what
keeps the money flowing to the corporations behind each one of
But more than making me aware of this nasty industry targeted
at women, watching the movie Eating brought my attention
to the little things that women think and say on a regular basis.
We all catch ourselves staring at other women, whether gazing
with envy or glaring with jealousy. Women constantly want to be
tall if they are short, short if they are tall, have smaller breasts
if they are big, and have bigger ones if they are small. This
film focuses on women's dissatisfactions with themselves and how
these cases of low self-esteem become intricately interwoven with
attitudes about food, and the things women say naively unaware
of the implications.
Gossip and glares fill this movie and show how much women really
do obsess. Passing a piece of cake around and no woman wanting
it is a tragic example that women cannot be comfortable enough
around each other to enjoy good food. This is because everyone
in the group has competition engraved into their heads by society
to be skinnier than everyone else. Women often bring their own
salad dressings or diet foods everywhere they go to be prepared
for the torturous temptation of a real, nourishing meal put in
front of them.
Excuses then become a major part of eating after women constantly
remind themselves that foods with fat and carbohydrates are bad.
It could be the birthday of a particular woman who says she can
eat anything she wants on her special day, or because her relationship
with her boyfriend didn't work out. But these are special justifications
for what is a basic human function: eating.
Of course there are exceptions to this kind of behavior, and we all like to think we are one of the exceptions, but inside every woman lies some kind of unhappiness with her body. The movie Eating shows all the little thoughts we think of, but mostly it is so overpowering and annoying that it made me think I should watch what I say and complain about because no one likes to hear griping on a regualr basis. This film could possibly have been made for the women of the world to realize how annoying we are to men with the obsessions of our bodies. On the other hand, it could have been made to show the men that we obsess over food and our bodies because of them. So maybe one day a happy medium will be met where no one gives a damn about flat stomachs, firm butts, or even big breasts, and all the money spent on fat-free foods, commercials for these foods, and gym memberships will be spent to feed some of the starving countries who truly need the food.
For further discussion, see the following brief essays:
"Sex, Food, and Sex with Food"
"Food is my Booty Call"
"Animal Cookies: A Child's Substitute for