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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Carmine Famiglietti stars as Neil Perota, a 315-pound man who suffers a
heart attack and is advised by his doctors that he needs to lose weight if
he wants to continue living. He makes a promise to his family that he will
eat well and lose weight. His mother, superbly played by Susan Varon,
him healthy meals and is very attentive. Probably a bit too much for Neil.
He cracks and sneaks out of the house with the pretext of going for a walk
and exercising and yet walks his way right into the nearest pizza place
where he proceeds to eat huge amounts of food.
Neil even enlists the assistance of his best friend, Sacco Valenzia (Michael Aranov), by having him sneak in twinkies and chocolate bars and junk food into his bedroom under the watchful eye of his father (Fil Formicola). And no matter how often his sister (Sharon Angela) weighs him, he doesn't seem to ever lose weight.
After his sister's wedding ceremony, his brother-in-law (Lou Martini, Jr.) feels disgusted with Neil and has the courage to say what no one else in the family wants to accept: Neil is not keeping his promise and losing the weight. It is wreaking havoc in the family and Neil finally comes to realize that he must do something to save himself and restore his relationship with his family.
Here comes the turning point of the film, the moment when Neil abandons his family, his house, his comforts, and more importantly, his needs. He drives up north to the woods, buys a couple of dilapidated trailers in the middle of nowhere and begins his quest. But not without the momentary assistance of his dear friend Sacco who also has an addiction of his own, drugs.
Sacco agrees to take on Neil's quest and clean himself of the toxic drugs he craves. But after going through the pains of withdrawal, both Neil and Sacco realize that, although their quest may be similar, it is one with two distinctive paths, one that they need to walk alone. Sacco leaves and Neil now has to learn how to live by himself, take care of himself, cook for himself and try not to go mad with boredom up in the woods where he can't even learn how to fish successfully.
In a very funny skit, he tries to find the courage to ride a bike, something that he probably hasn't done in a very long time, quite possibly never. But no matter. Because Neil finally overcomes his fear and bikes his way back and forth the local market which is miles away. Sometimes even in the snow.
Many months pass by and it is evident that Neil is on his way to fighting his gastronomical demons. By now he has lost a lot of weight and makes his way back home to his family, whom he has been excommunicated from since he left them. He arrives a brand new person but not to a happy family. His mother, at the sight of him, gasps and promptly slaps him and yells at him, accusing him of being a bad son for worrying his mother and not writing even one single letter to her. She shows him the numerous letters she has written him over the months, with no address to mail them to. Neil responds simply by hugging his mom.
Although Neil is back home, don't believe for a second that everything is honky-dory. It is difficult to come back to your old life when you have changed so much. And by the same token, it is very easy to slip back into your old habits. Neil does slip but thankfully it doesn't have any lasting effect. In the end, Neil is comfortable in his skin enough to go lay out on the beach, sunbathing even with or without the excess fat.
Lbs. is a little movie with a big, huge heart and a great message - Go seek what you must for your happiness and accept yourself no matter what happens.
In one of the most shocking scenes in the movie, we finally see what Sacco has become and it is very sad and painful to watch. His path had become very different from Neil's. Michael Aranov did an amazing job of portraying Sacco as a flawed human being, with his funny lines and his need to be a good friend to Neil and yet failing miserably to both Neil and himself.
The rest of the cast was incredible, their chemistry and easiness with each other was clearly evident on the screen as well as out of it. They worked very well together, like a beautiful symphony orchestra, all complementing each other and making glorious music together.
Carmine Famiglietti co-wrote this film with the help of his friend, Matthew Bonifacio and based it on his own experience and addiction with food. His realization that he needed to save himself moves him to sit down and start writing the script for this film. He lost about 170 pounds for this movie, being the heaviest at the beginning of the movie. In order to get funding for this movie, he had to prove he could lose the weight. Once he was able to prove that he could definitely lose the weight required to play the lead part, he then had to gain and lose weight accordingly depending on what was needed for the movie. It is also important to point out that while this is Famiglietti's first venture in acting, writing and producing a film, it is Bonifacio's directorial debut. He could not have picked a better project to launch his career.
At Sundance, Carmine admitted that he still struggled every day with his addiction, that he hadn't overcome it. He even said he was 30 pounds over his desired weight. Nevertheless, he still looked very good.
A great indie film. People dealing with the difficulties of life and
embracing change. The script rings true throughout. The acting is solid
and heartfelt. There is not a single clanger in this film. Well edited,
shot, cast, directed. A perfect indie film.
The story is simple, an ordinary fat man unhappy with his life, seeing his weight become a problem for those that love him puts himself into isolation to try and deal the problem head on.
It reminded me of The Station Agent with Peter Dinklage another indie film about body issues, separation from normal society and the search for connection. Both are fantastic films and both mean a lot to me. Films about change and redemption, about the daily grind that is this life. Highly recommended!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Have you ever unintentionally witnessed an intensely personal moment in
the life of a stranger? That was how this film was for me. I felt like
it was too personal, and none of my business, but, by the time I
realized that, I was so invested in the character's life that I had no
choice but to watch it until the end, and I am so very glad I did.
This film screened over the weekend at the Nashville Film Festival, and the post-film Q&A was really incredibly powerful. Carmine Famiglietti's journey to lose this weight for himself, as well as to play this role, is intense and heartbreaking, but this man has such a generous, sweet spirit that he cannot help but show as he plays Neil Perota.
This film has been picked up by a teeny-tiny distribution company, so may I take this moment to implore you all to see this film? You will not be sorry you did.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Lbs is a film that was shot between 2001 and 2003 but is only getting
its DVD release in January 2011. It stars Carmine Famigiletti as Neil
Perota and was directed by Matthew Bonifacio. The two met on the set of
Malcolm X and became fast friends.
While it has elements of both comedy and drama, I would classify this film as a 'fable'. It's sort of like Rocky but the arena is not boxing but rather 'food'. The story centers on Neil who lives in Brooklyn with his parents and is a food addict. He's saved up some money working part-time as a school bus driver for his father's company. Despite resolving to lose weight and trying to go on a diet, he invariably fails and ends up in the local pizza joint, stuffing his face. His brother-in-law mocks him at his sister's wedding and he reaches a low point where he simply doesn't know how he's going to overcome his addiction.
Finally, Neil decides to start a new life, moves to Schoharie County in upstate New York where he purchases two run-down trailers with his savings, out in the woods (a la Thoreau's Walden Pond). His friend, Sacco, a drug addict, helps him move but they end up arguing and Sacco splits. At first, Neil can't help but run to fast food outlets where he continues the same eating habits as before. He meets a woman, Lara (excellently played by Miriam Shor), who lives nearby who appears to be splitting up with her husband. One day, she visits Neil at the trailer and has sex with him. When he tries to follow up with Lara, he discovers that she's back with her husband so he then embraces his solitary life completely. Neil starts exercising and eating right and by the time he returns to Brooklyn, he loses almost 200 lbs. What's remarkable is that Famigiletti actually lost the weight during the filming which lasted over a period of 27 months. He really looks fantastic in contrast to the man we meet at the beginning of the film.
Once back in Brooklyn, Neil's family and friends hardly recognize him. He looks up a waitress he used to have a crush on and takes her out on a date but walks out on her after she arrogantly refers to an overweight man in the restaurant as "disgusting". Neil finally runs into Sacco who is emaciated due to his drug addiction. Sacco's character is contrasted with Neil, suggesting that some addictions will lead to a point where a person cannot pull himself back. Neil, on the other hand, is someone who proved that overcoming a serious addiction, can be done.
Lbs is both an inspirational and cautionary tale. Despite the fact that Neil was successful in taking off the lbs, at the end of the film he gives into temptation and starts putting the lbs on back again. This is what happened to Famigiletti in real life. He's still struggling with weight issues, despite accomplishing so much during the creation of this film.
Lbs has a collection of endearing characters including the aforementioned Lara as well as Lee Hawkins (played by a very convincing, folksy Eric Leffler), the man who sells Neil the trailers and the property he lives on during his sojourn in the wilderness. Not all the other characters are as well developed and Neil's mother seems more like a caricature of an overbearing Italian mother than a real-life person. The story is also sketchy in spots, especially when Neil returns to Brooklyn (does this guy ever think of getting a job?)
Matthew Bonifacio has done an excellent job as a first time director, extracting sure-fire performances from a mixed cast of experienced and non-experienced actors. I'm told the film has been shown to groups interested in promoting ways to end obesity in America--that seems to be a very good thing! Famigiletti's transformation is certainly a sight to behold!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Lbs definitely comes from the heart. It is an eloquently well developed
story about a man's struggle with food addiction. I was surprisingly
impressed. I went to see this film at Hunter College's Avignon New York
Film Festival with out any expectations upon the recommendation of a
co-worker. I was frustrated, elated, saddened all while feeling like I
had the opportunity to peek into the intimate life of Neil (the
This film is a breath of fresh air in a much too saturated Hollywood "bubble-gum-feel-good " market, and you need to see it. It is an honest and personal exploration of a man's desire to fill "the void." Haven't we all struggled with wanting to fill that void? Even though, not all of us struggle with food addiction we all struggle with something, and this film makes you think to yourself about yourself, and other's in your life who have battled such vices and many others.
The director, the cast and crew succeeded in telling the honest truth behind Neil's battle with food addiction in a very sensitive and human way. You need to see this film and you need to tell others the same. You will not regret it. In fact, you will be the better for it.
It premieres March 2006.
Anyone that has ever dealt with obesity will find a voice in this movie. The main character knows he has a problem and finds ways to deal with it. If your looking for a film that was shot in gorgeous locations, deals with the gritty and not so pretty life of an obese person, and shows the realities of fat intolerance and bigotry then this is the film for you. The twists and turns of life and the shear joy of food resonate so truthfully. No sugar coating or feel good, quick fixes thrown in for good measure. I've never been to New York, but I can tell you that the problems he deals with can be seen in "Anytown, USA" This is a must see film, not only for those that have problems with food but for those they love as well. Nothing in life is easy, except for the love of food.
This movie was aired on WNET Feb 9, 2013. The acting was very good, the
screen play was very good and the script was very good.
So as not to repeat the excellent insights of the other reviews of this film, my only comment was regarding the scenes where: (1) Carmine Famiglietti (Neil) is vomiting up the smörgåsbord of junk food he had just ate in his hotel room in Brooklyn after he had returned to Brooklyn from his soul searching in upstate New York; and (2) Subsequently Neil attends an Overeaters Anonymous (OA) Meeting (not specifically stated) where he gives a testimonial of his personal fight with his food addiction.
These two scenes seem to indicate that Neil has become a bulimic to conquer his weight problem. Many food addicts do become bulimics and do attend OA meetings to cope with their demons. Unfortunately, this thread is not explored and the movie ends with Neil sun bathing at Coney Island lying next to a young hottie.
This movie would have been absolutely trailblazing had it really explained how Neil's motivation caused him to lose the 150 pounds. Clearly Neil had not changed his outlook on food, otherwise would not have pigged out in his Brooklyn hotel room following his failed date with the waitress. Clearly Neil has not come to grips with his sense of insecurity and he is still the passive person he was when he was 315 lbs.
Despite the above gripes this is an excellent film worth viewing.
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