Getting Fat in a Healthy Way
31 May 2022
Kevork Aslanyan, Georgi Merdzhanov
Ovanes Torosian, Petyo Cekov, Keti Raykova
The opening scene of ‘Getting Fat in a Healthy Way’ suggests an offbeat, dark comedy, with a moderately moral storyline. From there it quickly unravels. Not only is the film a mess - plagued with inconsistencies and audio issues - but it contains a morally reprehensible message.
Let’s start with the good - the beginning. The serene sound of an upbeat piano tune as stills of summer skies flash in front of our eyes - all seems to be well. Alas no, for a poor family picnic has turned disastrous, gravity has seemingly disappeared and the mother floats away, the son barely escapes with his life. We are led to believe that this really happened despite the fact that it’s a dream by the memorial photos of the mother dotted around the house.
It turns out, though I only gathered this from reading the synopsis, that a tragic accident has disturbed gravity on Earth (leaving the moon looking like Pac-man) so that everyone weighing less than 120kg flies up into space. This is detrimental to Constantine (Ovanes Torosian), the boy from earlier, who weighs only 60kg and is, therefore, unable to leave the house. Constantine does as best he can, though electrical mood wings from a household gravitational normaliser don’t help, but all that changes when he sees a beautiful stewardess move in next door (Keti Raykova).
On paper, this appears to be a harmless, fluffy film about love breaking down all its barriers, but, is it really love when it’s all so one-sided. Constantine sees this woman one time - she waves, he gets shy and hides - and from there he is infatuated. He dreams of her, maybe even doing something more to the thought of her. But what does she think of him, we don’t know. She isn’t even given a name.
She may have a line or two, it’s hard to discern when you’re judgement is based purely on the reading of lips. That’s because when the characters open their mouths no sound comes out - just pure silence. There’s sound the rest of the time though, things cluttering to the ground mainly, and a surprisingly enthralling score. Being a Russian language film this would be permissible if there were subtitles, however, there aren’t any - we’re left feeding on scraps of plot and picking up the vague strands of themes.
Furthermore, at one stage Constantine, upon seeing the beautiful unnamed woman, decides to order a mountain of burgers to try and put on the pounds. At a time when 13% of adults in the world are obese, and 39% are overweight, this idea of encouraging binge-eating is disgusting. Sure, it could be argued that eventually he breaks free and gets the girl without gaining the weight, but then, why focus on weight gain in the first place? It could also be argued that this is a film about body positivity - but then why the stigma on people being at a healthy weight.
There are few redeemable qualities in ‘Getting Fat in a Healthy Way’, none of which make it a worthwhile watch. With incoherent plot lines, major audio issues and a disgustingly exploitative message, this is one of the few films which has gotten me genuinely angry. The title is ‘Getting Fat in a Healthy Way’, but there is surely no way watching this can be at all healthy.