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EMBRACE

Embrace-1170x764Directed by Taryn Brumfitt
Starring Taryn Brumfitt, Riki Lake, Nora Tschirner

There have been a couple of times of late that I have been surrounded by an audience in tears after a film preview. Two of those have been small scale Australian documentaries, Chasing Asylum (who’s plaintive pleas for asylum seekers is hard to ignore) and Embrace. Embrace is a bit of a surprise in this regard, as at first glance the subject matter may not seem as obviously visceral. Yet the universal nature of it touches audiences deeply.

The genesis for this crowd funded documentary was surprisingly mundane. When Taryn Brumfitt post two pictures of herself on social media, she did not expect quiet the media storm that she got. Subverting the usual “before and after” photos of dieting ads, she posted an after photo that had her heavier and happier for it. With the photos sparking such a reaction from viewers (both positive and negative) Taryn looks into the sensitive subject of body image.

In many ways Embrace is body image 101. For anyone having even a passing interest in the issue, this film covers well trodden ground. What makes it effective is the personal tales being told by individuals are incredibly easy to relate to. What makes it terrifying is the statistics it cites point to the global nature of the issue amongst women. What makes it extraordinary, is Embrace remains almost relentlessly positive in it’s approach. It is not about playing the blame game, but rather presents the issue, and offers some alternatives. As such Embrace is touching, powerful and motivating cinema.

That positive approach is front and centre in host Taryn Brumfitt. From the initial pictures, to the various responses she received by the thousand (both positive and negative), it is her story that frames the debate. Yet despite the worldwide attention that her tale has received, her issue touches a common chord with viewers, merely the scale has changed. There is an eminent likeability about her, after all how can you not like someone that husband refers to an artistic nude photo as “tastefully starkers”. As Brumfitt guides us through the world of fashion, modelling, dieting and cosmetic surgery, that has enforced an unrealistic view of body image. We see the effect that it has had both on individuals and society. As an audience we relate to her because of that geniality, and feel her pain and frustration without it needing to be pushed too far to the forefront.

At it’s heart, this is a simple call for diversity and acceptance. A basic message, but as Embrace shows, one that is all too often forgotten in the world we live in.

DAVID O’CONNELL

 

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