Horror Romance You’ll Love, Bones and All (2022)
Title: Bones and All
First Non-Festival Release: November 18, 2022 (Theatrical Release)
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Writer: David Kajganich, Camille DeAngelis
Runtime: 131 Minutes
Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Taylor Russell, Mark Rylance
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
A disastrous sleepover leads Maren (Taylor Russell) to go on the run again. Her father abandons her with a cassette tape explaining all he knows about her condition, a drive to consume the flesh of other humans. As she makes her way around the country in search of her birth mother, Maren runs into other eaters like Lee (Timothée Chalamet), a charming drifter just like herself. She also meets people like Sully (Mark Rylance), eaters that take their condition to terrifying extremes.
Provocative and hypnotic, Bones and All blends horror and romance together while musing on love, life, and loss.
Taking its time to truly deliver on its chaotic premise, Bones and All chugs along with a road trip that spans homes, heathens, and hearts. Instead of a straightforward journey, this indie delight favors twists and turns as it reaches its destination and more. In fact, the most charming aspect of the film is that the driving force of its first and second half are completely different. The goals of both Maren and Lee change as they grow together and learn more about themselves and the world around them.
Maren’s journey is well-developed and gives her ample time to fully be fully fleshed out not only as a compelling protagonist but an unpredictable one. Kicked out by her father, learning to look out for herself, Maren is thrust into a world she knows nothing about and is ill-prepared for, both in knowledge of people like herself and how normal things operate, as would any teenager her age. Her primary goal of finding her mother is replaced with her unquenchable desire to learn more about herself and this world once she learns some terrible truths about her family tree. Simultaneously, by trusting Lee, she finally lets someone in despite her fears of abandonment and penchant for self-destruction. What makes Maren so unique is her talent for standing firm in her morals and judgment, which places her in a unique position to explore herself in other ways compared to other coming-of-age protagonists. Even her need for comfort is eclipsed by this driving force when the pair separates, giving Bones and All a particularly devastating middle that makes the narrative all the more engaging.
The titular phrase of the movie evokes more than just a visceral feeling when paired with its cannibalistic premise; it serves as a metaphor for life. When Maren and Lee meet the two eaters in Missouri, they learn of the idea of eating every part of a person: bones and all. They claim that this act is the finest way of experiencing the rush of eating humans. This idea shocks Maren at first as she believes this to be impossible but the thought doesn’t escape either of the young couple's minds. When it comes around in the end, its true meaning hits harder.
The idea of consuming someone bones and all isn’t just about the pleasureful act of consumption, there is something even more raw to it. Conceptually, the act of eating is one of the most intimate things humans can do: by themselves or with others. In nature, animals show comradery by eating or take turns watching for other predators. In Bones and All, this act of wholly consuming someone becomes a request for remembering, relishing the time two people have together, and making promises in their honor. It’s not something that many in their universe can understand, but for people like Lee and Maren, it’s a poetic way to profess their undying love.
Not only is the film beautifully written, its cast does a phenomenal job of bringing their characters to life. Both Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet wade into the muck of backroads society and come out shining regardless. Fearlessly leading the feature, Russell adeptly communicates the grief of short-spanned love while grappling with the knowledge of her family history and lack of understanding regarding her identity. Chalamet, on the other hand, flexes his bravado while returning the tenderness bestowed upon him by Russell. In the end, his kind portrayal of Lee allows himself to open up even more emotionally once his walls break down over the course of the epic road trip.
Beyond its stellar story and incredible performances, Bones and All is just a well-made film. Its soundtrack perfectly captures the rebellious nature of youth in a time of social oppression while still fitting in perfectly with the shimmering summer sun. Beautiful cinematography allows the raw underbelly of America to poke through in striking ways. The journey to find Maren’s mother is not only emotionally turbulent but visually dazzling even in its most mundane. The beauty in Bones and All is in its simplicity, the human-ness in its cannibalistic heart.
Sizzling slow burn romance and unflinchingly brutal horror mix together to give this year’s indie success story. Its sun-drenched romance is confidently complemented by the dark horror creeping on the margins of two star crossed lover’s perfect alignment. Russell and Chalamet’s chemistry and prowess as actors allow the film to achieve a level of power rarely seen in this genre mashup. Its pacing may force a few to wander, but those who stick with it will find something truly special in the oddball film. The best things in life aren’t to everyone’s taste, but that will not stop this reviewer from recommending Bones and All to every person possible.
Overall Score? 7.5/10