Review: A Fat Person Goes To The Doctor (2023)

Innovative Cinema
Programme 4

Copyright: Sixpackfilm

Austrian helmer Veronika Merklein takes a seat in a (doctor’s) waiting room and immediately starts telling jokes about overweight people that all begin in a similar fashion: “A fat person goes to a doctor…” Each joke is met with an avalanche of laughter by the invisible audience, just like in average American TV comedy shows. Welcome to the bitter reality of people who do not meet the contemporary ‘visual’ standards. By deliberately avoiding the term “beauty” as it is something that varies from country to country, culture to culture, or by the individual perception if it, and by putting the accent on “visual”, I am refering to the modern malaise of judging the book by its cover, probably the best summarized in the saying “You can never be too rich or too thin”, attributed to the Dutchess of Windsor.

The otherness provokes honesty uncalled for by known- and unknown people alike. Merklein concentrates only on her visits to diverse medical specialist for things completely unrelated to her weight, such as an ear infection, or even the cancer treatment, with each of them resulting in comments related to her obesity. Thus the title of the movie. With each new “joke”, the adjective “fat” is being additionally accentuated. A fat person is growing into a fat, fat, fat, fat person as the film’s runtime progresses.

“A Fat Person Goes To The Doctor” is a minimalist dark comedy, and a one person show that points out at prejudice that persons with extra pounds are met with on daily basis. One of the most shocking “jokes” Merklein is telling while leafing a magazine that gives advises on healthy diets is that she was told by the doctor who treated her for cancer that “maybe that would help her lose weight”. This is hell of a macabre statement, indeed, and it is not the only one. Merklein turns each of the stories into a dry cabaret ‘sit-up’ show.

This simple, yet effective movie inspired by personal experiences has just had its world premiere in Graz, in the Innovative Cinema programme section of Diagonale.

Original Title: A Fat Person Goes To The Cinema
Country: Austria
Language: English
Year: 2023
Runtime: 11′
Written/ Directed by: Veronika Merklein
Cinematography: Mika Aloisia Sattler
Sound: Moritz Heidegger
Performer: Veronika Merklein
Sales: Sixpackfilm