Vittorio treats Sonia like gold not as something of high value but as a literal piece of gold, as an object, to be molded into weighing nothing. He first sees her as gold when he visits her while she is modeling for a night drawing class. The moles on her body remind him of the gold specs arising from the molten liquid.
Vittorio does not seem to desire her as a sexual being as she loses weight. However, the close-ups used in the sex scene reduce Sonia’s body into pieces of flesh suggesting that he desires her in this reductive state. Yet, as she continues to starve herself, she and Vittorio have reduced their physical intimacy to hugs and scant kisses. This makes them seem more like friends than lovers.
Garrone seems to be obsessed with framing Vittorio around straight lines. Vittorio lives in a prisonlike apartment building. He and Sonia walk often down a street lined with street lamps. They also frolic in the woods in the midst of barren trees with very smooth trunks, showing by analogy how Vittorio thinks that a woman should naturally be thin as a stick. These straight-lined images suggest that Vittorio is imprisoned in his straightforward thinking. He can only see what is in front of him.
In one scene, what is in front of him is a Sonia who is blurred (Vittorio is also blurry but not as much as Sonia). His blurriness coincides with his “pep-talk” to Sonia. He explains that he is not with the present Sonia who weighs 45 kilos (99 lbs) but with a future Sonia who will weigh 40 kilos (88 lbs). Sonia appears blurry to show the audience how she is reduced to nothing physically and to show how Vittorio does not consider her feelings.
The impact of that image makes me forget that Sonia had set this torture in motion. In a visually uninteresting full shot, a skinny woman walks by Sonia at the pool. Sonia looks at the woman and then at Vittorio who has his eyes on the book. The close-ups and the blurry images make me blame Sonia’s condition completely on Vittorio even though she made the decision to starve herself. These shots make her look trapped into being nothing. And I am trapped by the aesthetic beauty of these shots. Thus, I sympathize with her struggle to fulfill someone’s desire for beauty.
In the final scene, Vittorio says “Only what truly counts remains.” And I remain disconcerted by this film so much so that I have to go eat for Sonia.