Submitted by Julio M

The reluctance of Nancy (Tracey Gold) to either understand that she needs to adequately feed herself, or accept anyone’s help in the matter, progressively takes a toll in the life of her family, as well as in her own; she becomes physically gaunt and wasted, as well as sullen and withdrawn. All the while, her obsession with order and appearance consumes her and she finds herself trying to exercise beyond her physiological means, and skipping -or ridiculously cutting amounts of- meals more and more.

She is admitted to hospital a few times, mostly against her will, and, because of this factor and her being legally of age, she manages to get herself checked out, having achieved nothing. Moreover, she constantly lies to everyone around her about “how much she is eating”, or “how she will prepare and/or eat this or that” whenever confronted. Matters come to a head, though, when both her parents Tom (William Devane) and Sally (Jill Clayburgh) start discovering neglected plates full of food hidden under her bed or in other spots of her room, which escalate to heated arguments with her that go nowhere.

One notable incident finds Nancy randomly stacking cans of assorted products (vegetables, meats, soups, etc.) on the kitchen counter, while she recites their names non-stop, over and over, and tries to concoct a pot of something that she just repeatedly scoops “to get the fat out”; Sally -who, to a certain extent, was always in denial of the situation because of her idealization of a perfect life with a flawless, trouble-free family- loses her cool and tearfully berates her for what she is doing. Tommy (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), the younger child, refuses to be in the house and, instead, spends hours in his car, afraid to come in and find her dead.

Eventually, Nancy becomes bed-ridden from her malnutrition. Sally offers to make her something to eat and, for the first time, Nancy offers what appears to be a more logical explanation of her state by saying “she physically feels like she wants to eat, but her mind won’t let her”. Nancy ends up being hospitalized once more, for kidney issues. Tom and Sally feel hopeless at what appears to be the inevitable resolution of watching their eldest daughter starve herself to death, solely based on “her being over 18”.

Dr. Partana (Garwin Sanford), the physician who did try to help before, offers a window of hope by telling the Walshes that the only solution to this dilemma is to declare Nancy mentally incompetent in court, so that Tom can become her guardian for medical purposes. When Nancy is told about this, she does not take it nicely and it leads to further estrangement between her and her parents. Undeterred, this time, they provide Nancy with a lawyer that would defend her in court, and push the case forward. In the course of the proceedings, Nancy has an epiphany and comes to understand that she does have a problem -which she admits to the Judge, when asked-, and that her parents were only doing this to help her and save her from a certain death. She finally relents and allows Tom to be her legal medical guardian.

Upon returning home, Nancy proclaims that she “wants to have a bagel, to eat”; everyone discretely observes from a distance, without interfering. She starts taking tiny nibbles off a bagel and, then, bigger pieces, thus indicating she is indeed making the effort to get better. The movie ends with Nancy, after having done a successful hospital stint, openly discussing, as part of a support group, her overall experience and struggle with anorexia nervosa and how she needed to keep fighting it and that there is a solution to it.

01 hours 40 minutes