Like Crash for the heavyset crowd, Glenn Gers’s disFIGURED is a preachy message movie that collapses under the weight of its own self-important speechifying. In the film’s defense, it lacks the cynical calculations that made Paul Haggis’s film such a noxious piece of shit, but Gers’s humanism is ultimately no less manipulative. His first mistake is to center his film on a setup so contrived that it wouldn’t pass muster in a first-year screenwriting class: Lydia (Deidra Edwards) is an overweight woman who, during a meeting of her “Fat Acceptance Group,” meets Darcy (Staci Lawrence), an anorexic real-estate agent who’s at the meeting because she views her own stick-thin body as overweight, and the two women form an uncomfortable but fulfilling friendship that allows Gers numerous opportunities to have his characters spout unnatural, awkwardly-written sermons.
Gers pulls off exactly one truly progressive move, a sex scene between Lydia and her equally overweight friend Bob (Ryan C. Benson), which he shoots as warmly intimate and erotic. The rest of the film seems to have come right out of the Haggis playbook, in which legitimate sociological issues are trivialized by such tone-deaf scenarios as Lydia being harassed by a drunken bum or her embarrassment in the presence of a group of hot-to-trot teenagers (the implicit message of this scene being, I guess, to condemn the young girls for having the gall to be attractive). Backed by the soundtrack’s oppressive New Age piano and guitar noodling, these scenes stake out the controversial claim that fatties are people too, which may not be as offensively stupid as Haggis’s “everyone’s a little bit racist” nonsense but is certainly no less condescending to its supposed audience.
Gers’s sympathy seems to fall more with Lydia than with Darcy, and whether through a failed stab at complexity or a failure to comprehend the anorexic mindset, his presentation of the latter’s emotional state is frequently muddled to the point of being nonsensical. So while disFIGURED presents the overweight as just needing love and understanding, its position on anorexics seems to be that, well, those bitches is just crazy, a presentation not helped by Lawrence’s somnambulant performance, which could double as a note-perfect imitation of one of Kristen Wiig’s comically soft-spoken SNL characters.