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A Food Addict and His Movie: Lbs.

July 1, 2010

Lbs Poster

Film Journal International brings us Frank Lovece’s comprehensive review of a dramedy called Lbs. The subtitle is “Heavyweight human drama of a food addict going cold turkey.” The reviewer is especially impressed by the dialogue between two friends who argue about which addiction, cocaine or food, is harder to kick. Lovece calls this:

[…] a starkly illuminating scene written and played with perfectly honed dialogue, attitude and timing.

It’s a 99-minute, ultra-low-budget indie film with exceptional actors. The main character is a 315-pound Neil Perota, played by Carmine Famiglietti, who also co-wrote the script. I’d be very interested to know if it says anything about Neil’s younger days. Was he a victim of childhood obesity? What caused his eating to go out of control?

As is so often the case in life, shift happens, and Neil is brought face-to-face with the destruction his morbid obesity wreaks on his own life, as well as the destinies of the people closest to him. However, he still can’t kick his addiction. Lovece says,

Ordered by his doctor to diet, Neil pushes best friend Sacco to sneak him contraband sweets as if he were doing drug deals — something that Sacco, a habitual cocaine user, knows his way around.

After more humiliation and disgrace, Neil convinces Sacco to join him in a remote locale where they can both go cold turkey. It doesn’t work out, and Neil winds up alone, except for some new people who come into his life and cause even more shift.

Some people act like the idea of food addiction is a startling new concept, but it’s been around since Biblical times at least. Only then, they used to call it gluttony. Gluttony was classified as one of the Seven Deadly Sins. These are more enlightened times, and we use different terminology, but morbid obesity is still deadly.

Twenty-three years ago, Dr. Douglas Hunt published No More Cravings, a book based partly on his own experience, and then on his experience with patients. Hunt was addicted to a certain brand of doughnuts and a certain brand of soda pop. He wrote,

The two were constantly associated in a vicious circle, as chronic and dangerous to my health as any heroin or cocaine habit.

When Hunt went cold turkey, he generalized his two problem foods to their categories and decided to never again eat chocolate or cola, period.

The conclusion we’re drawing is, the food addiction meme is not some aberrant notion held by a few misfits. It’s not a weird idea somebody thought up yesterday. A lot of people understand. Most of us just haven’t figured out what to do about it yet.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Film Review: Lbs.,” FilmJournal, 03/25/10
Source: “No More Cravings,”
Image of Lbs. film poster by from Brooklyn-Queens Experiment used under Fair Use: Reporting.

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