Directed by: #GregoryRocco
In a world increasingly driven by social media and the quest for perfection, indie film Stretch Marks will resonate with anyone looking for a beach ready body. Lyle (John Larkin) is coming to terms with the death of his father and finds refuge as a comfort eater. His square jawed brother James (Jacob Alden Roa) is a regular gym bunny and desperate for his sibling to lose weight; while their mother (Marianne Goodell) is knee deep in grief and unable to engage with her children.
Lyle’s frustrations are compounded working as a photo editor in an advertising company. Not only is he bombarded with images of the perfect body but is also smitten by office pin-up Alessa (Nicole Balsam). Tipping the scales at 284Ibs he resolves to lose six stone. James spurs him on with the mantra that 70% of feeling good is looking good; best friend Keith (Kevin Michael Murphy) really can’t see what the problem is; happily roping in Lyle as wingman on a double date. Lyle follows a punishing fitness regime and slowly inches towards his target. The most perceptive exchanges are between Lyle and Dr Taylor (Robin F. Baker) who slowly teases the truth out of his patient. Is Lyle fulfilled by the weight loss or is it just a façade; a mask for his low self-esteem and insecurity?
A quiet dignity remains constant throughout a film that makes its point without ceremony or fanfare. Some heart rending sequences are beautifully played with raw honesty; Lyle plucking up the courage to ask Alessa out and the crushing disappointment when he confused a date with a catch-up are heartbreaking. Stretch Marks is a perceptive title as they are a permanent reminder of the weight lost, but seemingly no guarantee of emotional stability; a salutary reminder to be careful what you wish for. It doesn’t exactly raise the roof but gently lifts the lid on our obsession with body image and desire for social affirmation.
John Larkin as Lyle and Robin F. Baker as Dr Taylor are the real stand outs in a cast of solid performers working with a soundly rafted script. Writer and director Gregory Rocco has delivered a watchable but ultimately low key film that could have used more of a flourish.