Bones and All: Review
After being abandoned by her father, Maren wanders across the country in search of answers to her identity. She stumbles into Lee – a drifter suffering from a similar infliction – they are both cannibals. Maren and Lee form an affectionate bond as they wrestle with their future in Bones and All.
The notion of a cannibal love story may garner repugnant responses from readers at first glance, but the concept packs far more resonance than what initially meets the eye. Based on Camille DeAngelis’ acclaimed 2015 novel, Bones and All thankfully utilizes its premise for more than grisly gore and bone-crunching body horror. Instead, the film adaptation offers an emotionally raw, star-crossed romance that impactfully reckons with its characters’ vulnerable plights.
Concocting untraditional narratives comes second nature for Italian director Luca Guadagnino. Following his success with the Oscar-winning Call Me By Your Name and his bold remake of Suspiria, Guadagnino imbues his dream-like sensibilities masterfully into Bones and All’s narrative framework.
The structure-free approach fits the aimless road trip odyssey like a glove, with the director’s evocative framing choices and intelligently implemented music cues eliciting a deep undercurrent of untamed emotion resting under the surface of his insular subjects. In addition, Guadagnino conjures remarkable sensitivity throughout Bones, wrestling sincerely with his characters’ three-dimensional perspectives without rendering clean-cut conclusions from their struggles. He also executes a few sequences of grisly human consumption, although these moments focus less on visceral carnage and more on the taxing personal toll of the characters’ insatiable desires.
At its core, Bones and All is a profoundly personal work. Screenwriter David Kajganich’s adaptation skillfully dissects the human ramifications of Lee and Maren’s unique inflection. In a figurative sense, their hunger for human flesh mirrors an inescapable addiction – an uncontrollable urge that drives both into being longstanding outsiders. I appreciate the patience Kajganich operates with across the film’s sprawling 131-minute runtime, delicately developing Lee and Maren as wistful dreamers searching for a sense of solace amidst a world that shuns their existence.
A trio of impactful performances also steals the show. As Maren, emerging star Taylor Russell showcases her effervescent talents onscreen. Her expressive subtleties and commanding screen presence help morph Maren into a lived-in protagonist that boasts a transfixing hold on viewers’ interest. Likewise, Timothée Chalamet is aptly suited for the role of cannibal drifter Lee. The actor exudes alluring charisma and emotional vulnerability as Lee comes face-to-face with his complicated existence. The impactful performances from Russell and Chalamet cultivate natural chemistry onscreen as the duo forms a romantic dynamic forged from the fires of their pained shared history.
Oscar-winner Mark Rylance also exhibits remarkable dedication as a sinister cannibal tracking Maren’s every move. I will admit that Rylance’s arc is the film’s weakest element, ultimately injecting too much melodrama that distracts from the narrative’s more nuanced pleasures. However, the actor’s unfiltered mania and overwhelming creepiness still allow the role to take on its intended menace.
Bones and All really enamored me from start to finish. It’s a deeply affecting work that morphs its unconventional premise into a powerful portrait of two disenfranchised people finding solace in one another.
Bones and All is now playing in theaters nationwide.