Film Review: Embrace (MA15+) (Australia, 2016)

It’s not very often a film will change my perspective on life, but after viewing Taryn Brumfitt’s documentary Embrace it was a completely different story.

The roots of this inspiring documentary stem from a post of Brumfitt’s that went viral in 2013, depicting Taryn in an unconventional before and after photo – from having a “perfect” bodybuilding body to finally relaxing and becoming comfortable in her life. As the narrator of the film, Taryn explains that the response of the post, both negative and positive, inspired her to travel around the world to document and share why women’s bodies are portrayed in such an unattainable way in the media.

The film is evocative, smart, yet most importantly real. Taryn interviews big names in media from inspirational speaker Turia Pitt, leading Australian media mogul Mia Freedman and actress and talk show host Ricki Lake, yet the most emotive interviews come from the numerous vox pops of everyday women who describe their bodies as “gross” and “disgusting”. It is a sobering moment in the film and symbolises exactly what the documentary aims to achieve, as mentioned by Taryn in a narration to her daughter and in the film’s title – for women to simply Embrace their bodies.

I was also fortunate enough to see Taryn at a Q&A session after the film, where she further shared  her experiences and responded to other women’s stories. Although the documentary is extremely touching, hearing personal stories from women across Melbourne; those who work in the entertainment industry, mothers who want their daughters to feel comfortable in their bodies and even young adult women like myself, truly demonstrated the potential impact this film will most likely have in its release.

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Taryn touched on the controversy surrounding the film’s MA15+ rating, due to 15 seconds of justified female genitalia shown to be considered “harmful content”.

“What is harmful about women’s bodies?” Taryn responded before explaining that the film will be shown in schools due to a successful petition by Taryn’s organisation, the Body Image Movement.

Embrace is not the average film one would go to see, but holds an extremely important message that should be shared with the world, female or otherwise. It showed the importance behind acceptance, the meaning behind working hard and overall, being able to finally embrace one’s self.

Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Embrace is in select cinemas around Australia from Thursday, 4th August.