Food for Thought
To everyone Beth (Alison Lohman - Flicka) seems a normal teenager; good at school, good at ballet and despite her parents being divorced seems happy spending time with both of them. But that is far from the truth as Beth has a secret eating disorder; it is the one thing which she feels she can control in her life as she tries to be everything that each parent wants. In fact she gets very good at hiding her eating disorder, that is until she starts to pass out and others start to notice how she is looking.
I have had two friends who both had eating disorders and watching "Sharing the Secret" brought back memories of how they behaved. But the thing this made for TV does right is not trying to cover all the things I witnessed as so many movies do and by doing so they end up feeling manufactured. Instead "Sharing the Secret" gives us Beth who feels like a character built around one real teenager and as such we see a handful of elements to do with her situation, from the binge eating away from others to the vomiting and techniques to cover up what she is doing. It makes the character and the drama feel real rather than forced and with the tone of the movie being quiet rather than sensationalist it also adds to the sense of reality.
Now this is good because it means we have a reasonably realistic depiction of a teenager with an eating disorder and not only might it help parents who find themselves with a child with an eating disorder but also teenagers dealing with it as well. But I do have a problem with "Sharing the Secret" and that is by being very real it is a slow burning movie, a gradual look at the life of Beth. That in itself isn't bad but in order to pad this out we have a parallel storyline about her mother who as a therapist is dealing with a troubled child. I know there is a parallel to be drawn between these elements but the whole subplot surrounding the troubled girl in therapy ended up feeling like added filler.
Despite that "Sharing the Secret" does feature good performances firstly from Mare Winningham who delivers a subtly touching performance as Beth's mother who finds herself in the unusual situation of being a therapist and having a daughter who needs help. But the stand out performance is from Alison Lohman who not only effectively delivers the mannerisms and emotions of a teenager with an eating disorder but also the look of a teenager with an eating disorder.
What this all boils down to is that "Sharing the Secret" is an effective drama about a teenager with an eating disorder, avoiding the usual melodramatic pitfalls of this kind of movie and going for realistic drama.