Eye For Film >> Movies >> Rule Of Thumb (2015) Film Review
Rule Of Thumb
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Coming out has been getting easier for many young people in recent years, so it's worth remembering that it's still very hard for others, and that even when one is living with what previously seemed like freedom, there can be other pressures that make life spin out of control.
Rule Of Thumb follows a young man whose attempts to hint about his sexuality to his mother seem to go unnoticed. Perhaps she genuinely hasn't imagined that her son might be gay; perhaps she buys into the casual homophobia that's part of conversation in their home and is deliberately refusing to engage. Not knowing, unable to talk to her directly, he feels lonely. perhaps moving out will fix it. Moving out means going clubbing, dancing all night, being wanted, picking up hot guys and taking them home. But the scene is notoriously body-focused, and he just doesn't see his body the way other people do.
It's a common rule that people who struggle with eating disorders are the last people others would expect to worry about getting fat. The hero of this film has a figure many men would kill for, but he stands in front of the mirror pushing his abdomen inward. At lunchtime in the call centre where he works, he wriggles out of going to get food with other people. He runs a lot. He takes laxatives. Every now and again he binges on cake and makes himself vomit it all back up. Being able to get rid of it like that seems to give him a sense of control, but he struggles to function at work; his body just isn't coping. It becomes clear early on that he's going to burn out.
Eating disorders are almost always represented in film as a female problem, so it's good to see this short reminding viewers that they can affect men too. The overlap with the coming out process shows a clear overlap, in this case, with developing a sense of identity - one of the reasons, experts think, why they disproportionately affect the young. The fact that nobody around him seems to notice isn't merely an indictment of a gay club culture that talks about community but sometimes makes little room for friendship; it's also disturbing in the context of his workplace, where it simply doesn't seem to occur to anyone that he might be ill.
Rule Of Thumb is very well edited, ensuring that it feels punchy and energetic, keeping a sense of momentum rather than slowing down in tandem with its hero's decline. It puts across the frustration of call centre life perhaps a little too well, but this provides an important grounding amid the more unusual elements, and it reminds us that eating disorders manifest in very ordinary lives. All in all this is an impressive debut from a young filmmaker who'd definitely worth watching.Reviewed on: 15 Nov 2015