A group of queer women take to the screen to discuss their lived experiences of fatphobia and the journey to self-love in the hour-long documentary Well Rounded. Their stories touch on a multitude of relatable struggles, from body positivity to damaging diet culture and sex, making the film feel like an important piece while oozing solidarity with its female-identifying audience. Directed by Shana Myara, this work is full of powerful interviewees and charming Instagram-esque pastel animations but is a documentary that ultimately feels a bit half baked.
While media representation is slowly getting better, women’s bodies are still too often seen as a commodity, coming and going out of style based on hip sizes and belly fat. A universal issue that has caused women psychological pain for centuries, open and honest discussions around the topic are still needed yet surprisingly infrequent. Cue Well Rounded, filling in the media void to hold the patriarchal views on body ideals accountable. One-on-one interviews – interlaced with expert opinions and factual accounts from historians and dieticians – are used to scratch the surface of the complex issue of western-societal perceptions and reactions to body fat and women. However, the documentary never fully unpacks all the information it presents and struggles to form any coherent and firm points or observations around the topic.
There is no doubt that Myara’s documentary is optimistic and has a great message for any women struggling with body image. Still, unfortunately, this isn’t enough to redeem the movie’s fractured structure. Even the strong interviews – that are for the most part coherent and insightful – lose steam, feeling fragmented as sharp cuts and confusing editing fails to link the stories together or utilise them to propel a message. No solid points are made regarding the interviewees’ statements around queer experiences or racism while being plus-sized. Loaded statements that are begging to be discussed are glossed over, making the documentary feel like it doesn’t know what it is genuinely trying to say or achieve by the time credits roll.
There is so much potential in this film and on paper it should have been a home run. From the fabulous participants to the diverse voices and endearing art style, it had everything going for it. Unfortunately, with its questionable structure, Well Rounded feels like an insightful conversation with a friend instead of a thought-provoking documentary.
Well Rounded does not have a UK release date yet.
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Watch the trailer for Well Rounded here: