Comfort food and joylessness
An overeater becomes trapped inside himself in
Mark Phinney’s poignant and unflinching
OPENS IN TORONTO
October 30, 2015 – Carlton Cinema
November 6, 2015 – Kingsway Theatre
December 15, 2015 – VOD
Toronto International Film Festival, 2013
Ken (Mel Rodriguez) has an addiction. It causes him to lash out and hurt his loved ones. It affects his work, his self-esteem and even his personal hygiene. Little by little, he’s finding himself alone with his addiction.
But the addiction isn’t crack or meth or even alcohol. It’s food.
In Mark Phinney’s frank, emotional and often mordantly funny FAT, Rodriguez creates a character that seems achingly familiar and believable. A naturally funny guy, Ken attempts to hide behind quips and sarcasm as his weight piles on. He invites rejection in his desperate attempts to pick up attractive women as a show of bravado (while hypocritically rejecting “fat chicks”).
And his lonely reality seems to be point to an early demise – diabetes, high blood pressure and a nighttime “CPAP” mask to keep him from asphyxiating from sleep apnea.
Rodriguez’s Ken is surrounded by an increasingly exasperated support network – including his best friend Terry (Jason Dugre) and tentative new girlfriend Audrey (Ashley Lauren), an Overeaters Anonymous group and a physical trainer. But it becomes clear when he begins lashing out at them, that blaming others is his chief obstacle to saving himself.
FAT originated from a series of essays that comedian/actor Phinney wrote about his own struggles with weight. The movie’s modest budget came together through, “a combination of Kickstarter and credit cards.” The soundtrack, contributed by a coterie of Boston indie artists, lends verisimilitude to the story of a guy who only feels comfortable in oversized band t-shirts.
“Food addiction is more complicated than other addictions, because it’s everywhere,” Phinney says. “You don’t see heroin advertised on a billboard, but you do see Whoppers.
“But an addiction is an addiction and that’s what I wanted to show with the movie. Ken’s story isn’t so much about being fat as it is about being emotionally broken.”
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