Bones and All makes for a fine meal of unorthodox elements combined into something brilliant.
Published on November 17, 2022
Rating 4 /5
Bones and All feels like a stellar combination of Luca Guadagnino’s previous films Call Me By Your Name and Suspiria. It’s a unique blend of heartfelt young love and grotesque blood-and-guts gore. For as strange a brew as that may seem, Guadagnino makes it work and delivers a film that is equal parts romantic road trip and the vicious tale of cannibalism.
The film concerns the teenager Maren (Taylor Russell), a girl who has grown up with a taste for human flesh. Her father has tried to protect her and shield the world from her obsession but there’s only so much he can do. Maren can’t help herself, finding it difficult not to chew off the fingers of her classmates. It gets to a point where her father just doesn’t want to deal with her anymore and decides to send the 18-year-old girl off on her own. He departs without saying goodbye. All he leaves her is a confession of their history on a cassette tape and information on where to find her long-lost mother in Minnesota.
Maren sets off on a road trip where she discovers she is not alone. There are other flesh-eaters in this world that have been around long before Maren. One of them is Sully (Mark Rylance), an elderly drifter who is gracious in offering her food and shelter for the night. Both of which come from an unsuspecting victim. He’s a creepy man to associate with. Less creepy but more dangerous is the cannibal Lee (Timothée Chalamet), a man who is a bit older than Maren but advanced enough to know the ways to avoid being caught dining on bloody flesh. They connect well and soon form a romance that isn’t just out of convenience. Whether that romance will last with their lifestyles is a different story.
The film works so well because it finds just the right beats to hit. When Maren and Sully dine on the flesh of an elderly woman, it’s unsettlingly gross and disturbing. When Maren and Lee find themselves sharing that first kiss amid a dairy farm at night, it’s almost whimsically romantic. The further Maren proceeds on her travel with Lee, the more concerns come up about their future. Will they keep running from state to state, chewing skin and guts in secret? Or will they end up like Bonnie and Clyde? It’s an aspect that Maren thinks about deeply and makes the film all the more engrossing for a cannibal concerned about her well-being and where she can still find love.
There are so many moments of surprise and intensity that makes the story grow as dark as it does passionate and bloody. One of the best sequences occurs at a carnival. Maren and Lee find themselves falling in love on a Ferris wheel. The love turns to hunger and they target a carnie. Lee follows him out of the carnival after closing time for weed and sex. The vice leads to murder and dinner for the couple. It’s only when snatching his car that they discover they’ve killed a married man with kids, going against their set rules of not hurting anyone who will be missed. Their morals are not only challenged but their true feelings about existing on the outskirts of the law.
Bones and All makes for a fine meal of unorthodox elements combined into something brilliant. It’s hard to place just where such a film lies. It’s too brutal to be considered a typical young romance and too bound by romance to be considered a strictly horror affair. Perhaps that’s what makes the film so great, harboring the same tendencies as the characters who don’t desire to be so easily pegged. There’s nothing quite like this film and it really affirms just how strong of a director Guadagnino truly is for his daring filmography.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.