It's Nothing

By Anna Maguire | Drama
A young woman digs a hole in a nearby park that sets off a chain of events...

Robin is home now with her parents, applying to graduate school programs and jobs in hopes of finding her new direction. She runs into friends, goes to their parties, seems pleasant and friendly, though she's careful to avoid certain situations.

But she also has a dark secret: there's an invisible, malevolent force around her that criticizes and shames her for nearly everything she does. This force -- in the form of a brittle, tough perfect woman that she can only see and hear -- drives Robin to dig an ever-growing hole in a nearby park. But there is more to this hole than appears on the surface. And as people begin to notice its effect on Robin, her carefully maintained routines and appearances begin to fall apart.

Directed with sharp acuity and formal precision by Anna Maguire from a script by Julia Lederer, this cerebral psychological horror-drama treads dark psychic terrain, capturing the undercurrents pulling Robin into a deep pit of shame, self-loathing and punishing control. These manifest into a powerful metaphor exploring the insidious way that eating disorders grab hold of their victims and make it particularly hard for them to shake.

The narrative unfolds in an initially naturalistic visual style that skews shadowy, heavy and moody, almost like a perpetual dark night of the soul for Robin. But as the writing carefully builds up Robin's reality, viewers begin to understand that many of the elements operate on a metaphorical level, especially as most other characters outside of Robin and her invisible companion fail to notice or acknowledge these elements.

But for Robin, these elements are more real, intense and deeply felt than her "real life." The dark presence lashing her with demands may exist in her head in any "realist" reading of the story, but that voice drives Robin more than any relationship with family or friend. The hole she digs isn't "seen" by anyone, but Robin's commitment to it supersedes almost anything else in her life. She eschews friends, social life or family connection to keep digging herself deeper.

Actor Emily Piggford navigates both the metaphorical and realist aspects of the story, capturing the brittle, pleasant but distant demeanor she paints on for friends and family and the despair, self-hatred and shame that drives her underneath. Yet as she continues on her path of furtive control and self-punishment, the neat divide between the two halves of Robin begins to collapse, sending Robin to the edge of self-destruction.

Much of "It's Nothing" feels like a strange dream, an alternate reality detached from the mores and emotions of normal life, and its atmosphere captures the peculiar psychological isolation experienced by those suffering from disordered eating. Puncturing that netherworld is difficult, making eating disorders very difficult to treat, and they have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder. While many stories about eating disorders often focus on external behavior (which can sometimes be triggering in many ways), the supreme accomplishment of "It's Nothing" is how it dramatizes the inner battle for those suffering from eating disorders. It ends with a note of well-earned, fragile hope, with Robin clawing her way out of the hole she's dug for herself. But for many, the pit gets so deep, and it takes much time, effort and help to pull themselves out.




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