First love is never easy. It’s a classic relationship full of alien feelings, intense longing, and heated youthful compromise. Now imagine if, on top of this difficult navigation of emotions, you also had a hankering for human flesh and some murderous tendencies too.
Directed by acclaimed Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino, Bones and All is a fantastical gore-fest of a horror movie that manages to craft a tender coming-of-age story among the bloody pounds of flesh dominating its macabre romantic plot. It has its sweet moments, scenes that will make you feel nauseous, and developments that will make you cry. In short, Bones and All makes an impact and is a film that will live in your mind rent-free for days after you first watch it.
Based on the 2015 novel of the same name by Camille DeAngelis, Bones and All follows a very typical but brilliantly crafted ‘Young Adult’ style narrative, where a young woman’s journey of self-discovery, Maren Yearly (Taylor Russell), becomes interweaved with angst-filled romance once she meets the runaway Lee (Timothée Chalamet). Both the young lovers have skeletons in their closet, and coming together, their newfound feelings help each other grow into the next chapter of their lives …Oh, and did we mention that both of them are cannibals too?
That’s right, along with the typical beats of a young love story, Bones and All offers a unique spin on the beloved but typical formula. Maren, having turned 18, has been abandoned by her father, who has been covering up her tendencies to try and eat all her friends and babysitters since she was three years old. Leaving her a cassette tape and birth certificate, Maren begins to travel the USA to find out the truth about her estranged mother and the uncontrollable affliction that makes her eat people.
However, during her travels, the young woman learns that she isn’t the only human with these cannibalistic urges after she meets the creepy Sully (Mark Rylance). After running away from the intimidating Sully, Maren joins with fellow people eater Lee; the two team up and travel towards Maren’s mother, learning more about each other and how to deal with their affliction along the way.
With realistic relationship developments, romantic moments in slaughterhouses, and morally dubious questions brought up continuously with the backdrop of a Regan Era America, Bones and All’s story rarely feels flat or one note.
Chalamet and Russell’s chemistry is palpable, making hearts race and audiences cry with every hardship the two encounter. Similarly, Guadagnino’s use of candid shots of the two’s eating frenzies and routine killings is disturbing, graphic, and leaves viewers in a state of conflicting feelings for our two ‘likable’ leads as the story unfolds.
As a director, Guadagnino has achieved something special here as he leads us through a variety of emotions. Calmness from sun-soaked car drives to the adrenaline-inducing tension of murders and Maren’s familial mysteries weave together, shocking us all, and keeping the thriller movie an unpredictable experience.
In short, even if you are a fan of love stories, and young adult novels, Bones and All struggles to feel predictable or safe.However, saying all that, Bones and All isn’t consistent in its sharp pacing.
Its third act loses a bit of momentum as the road trip plot continues to move along after Maren’s initial goal is addressed without truly re-establishing a solid new focus. The drama movie does, unfortunately, end with less of a focus on Maren, and more on just her relationship with Lee and immediate danger with Sully, stripping away the mystery and clean anchor for the story we had been following so far – her quest to find her family and the truth of her condition.
While the film is still enjoyable, at the end of the day, it feels more fractured by its conclusion and as if it could end at any time – since the story we had been following for two hours had already run its course. Still, saying all of this, the film’s overall narrative, and dialogue is impressive. Along with the script, Bones and All’s camerawork captures the nostalgic and warm tones of ’80s America.
The performance of both Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet are outstanding in their portrayal as two young, and haunted lovers trying to survive and find some semblance of normalcy in their cannibalistic lives. Rylance also proves himself to be the perfect antagonist, managing to instil feelings of dread far more than any cannibalistic acts on the big screen do, with his uncomfortable hyperfocus on Maren.
Bones and All ticks all the boxes. All of its elements are in place and work together to craft a heart-wrenching romance movie with enough graphic gore to turn your stomach as well as the waterworks on. However, with a script that overstays its welcome just a tad too long, its gut-wrenching impact doesn’t completely hit all of our horrific expectations. But it’s still a must-watch and one of 2022’s standouts for sure.
Bones and All hits theatres on November 23, 2022. If you are after more upcoming releases, here is our guide to 2023 movies that we can’t wait to see.
Bones and All review
Bones and All is a gory and heart-wrenching triumph of a romance movie.