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Comedian Mark Phinney makes his feature debut with this unflinchingly personal portrait of a life consumed by obesity, featuring a breakout tour-de-force turn from actor Melvin Rodriguez.
Powered by an utterly fearless, tour-de-force
performance by Mel Rodriguez, Fat
is a bracingly personal inventory of the
indignities of battling obesity. Making his
feature directorial debut, comedian Mark
Phinney has adapted a series of autobiographical
essays into an unflinching
portrait of a life consumed by a compulsive
and tragically self-destructive relationship
with food. Often deeply discomfiting, Fat is
also darkly funny, and is, above all, a film of
remarkable emotional honesty.
"Other than everything being messed
up, I'm good," quips the 300-pound Ken
(Rodriguez), who suffers from diabetes,
hypertension, and wears a respiratory mask
to bed to alleviate his apnea. His psychological
symptoms are similarly debilitating:
he's prone to fits of rage and bouts of severe
depression, and is given to "eating his feelings,"
a cycle of guilty binging triggered by
grief at the death of his mother the year
before, and his abandonment by his longtime
girlfriend a few months later.
Yet Ken's joking dismissal of his ailments
also speaks to his keen sense of humour,
which endears him to Audrey (Ashley
Lauren), an acquaintance of his best friend
Terry (Jason Dugre). Both figures are
eager to offer Ken support in reforming his
lifestyle, though he must first commit to
helping himself — a feat far more easily said
Given modern-day society's obsession
with body image, fitness ideals, and "good"
and "bad" foods, the rapidly growing
prevalence of obesity is ironic and telling.
Yet it's all too rare to see authentic cinematic
portrayals of "living large," particularly
from narrative filmmakers. Employing a
raw, pseudo-documentary aesthetic and
the bravura, soul-baring performance from
Rodriguez, Phinney has tapped into his
own painful experiences to redress that
deficiency. Fat relates its protagonist's
struggle with resonant candour by offering
insight into the workings of one's man's
- Mark Phinney
- Mark Phinney was born in Boston.
He has worked extensively in television,
is a founding member of sketch
comedy troupe For the Kids, and
wrote the screenplay for the short
film Fat, Broke & Horny (06). Fat (13)
is his feature directorial debut.