Older sister, Katja (Amy Deasismont) is a rising competitive ice skater and the subject of her parents' adoration. She's gorgeous, intelligent and wildly ambitious, while younger tween Stella (Rebecka Josephson) is the antithesis of her elder sibling, despite avid attempts to emulate her. Though their contrast could easily fuel a bitter rivalry overwrought by jealousy, the two sisters share a strong distinct bond that withstands their dysfunctional middle-class Swedish family dynamic, until Stella begins to notice a change in Katja's eating habits that have triggered a drastic shift in her mood, performance on the ice and ultimately their relationship. While covertly monitoring her sister's odd behaviour, Stella movingly uncovers that Katja is suffering from anorexia, and when brave enough to confront her role-model, she's soon blackmailed into keeping the life-threatening secret from their parents in order to protect Katja's image. My Skinny Sister is a powerful coming-of-age drama, assisted by a touching embryonic perspective, as 12-year-old Stella sifts through the morality of her weighty decision, while watching her idolized sister's condition worsen.

Swedish writer-director, Sanna Lenken's first charm-infused feature-length drama is partly inspired by her own teenage anorexia and stimulated by the illness' forceful consequences on her own family synergy. The brilliant director's debut boldly tackles taboo themes while thankfully detouring from the moralistic after-school special grounds she could have easily relied on. Instead, Sanna has successfully established and clarified the realistic intersections of essentially relatable concerns centered on eating disorders, body image, self-hate, adolescence and sisterhood, throughout the riveting family drama.

The bulk and bravery of the film is shouldered by its two young actors who carry their substantial roles with tenacity and authentic aptitude. Shot through Stella's point of view and mostly at her slightly shorter eye-line, the fidgety handheld camera-work fittingly emulates the agonizing personal dilemma the young protagonist faces with an unsettling precision. Through this naturalist style, the audience is given a glimpse into the mind of a young girl forced to face a life-changing verdict beyond her years.

My Skinny Sister at its most resolute, illustrates just how similar the issues associated with body-dysmorphic disorder are in comparison to addiction. And while the topic of substance abuse is regularly tackled in access on the big screen, eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are rarely showcased in such a realistic fashion. Lenken's film takes an essential and innovative approach to the grave subject that thankfully alleviates any sense of cliché, rather choosing to touch on often overlooked and repeatedly unrepresented perspectives surrounding the illness instead.

From the decision to highlight the simplicity of slipping such a life-threatening issue away from the attention of loved ones to the film's ability to shatter the myth that family involvement means a simple road to recovery, My Skinny Sister chooses not to simplify eating disorders for the sake of a storyline. Sanna Lenken's script delivers a convincing and proficient look at how body image affect everyone attributed to the ones suffering, a viewpoint clearly heightened due her own personal journey. And unlike lecture-heavy specials, there is no easily-digestible warning to take away Stella and Katja's story. It's simply honesty at its most crucial.