‘Bones and All’ review: a poetic feast in more ways than one
Stills from the movie Bones and all

Director: Luca Guadagnino
Cast: Taylor Russell, Timothée Chalamet, Mark Rylance, André Holland, Chloë Sevigny, Michael Stuhlbarg, David Gordon Green
Genre: Romantic drama, coming-of-age
Duration: 2h 10m

The director of Call Me By Your Name re-unites with Timothée Chalamet and Michael Stuhlbarg for the romantic drama, Bones and All, which is based on the novel by Camille DeAngelis.

Plotline

It is the 80s. 18-year-old Maren (Taylor Russell) and her father (André Holland) are two cannibals who are constantly on the run from the authorities while trying to tame their innate desires. On her birthday, Maren’s father abandons her. So she decides to locate her mom Janelle (Chloë Sevigny) who also loved munching flesh. On the way, Maren meets a mysterious young man named Lee (Timothée Chalamet), also a fellow ‘eater’. What begins is not only a road trip through the midwest ruins of America but a journey to the heart as Maren and Lee grow closer than ever.

Stellar performances of star-crossed hunters

While 27-year-old Chalamet showed promise and stole hearts in Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name, his performances in the succeeding Lady Bird and Little Women left me on the fence. He seemed like he had been pushed into a box, essaying self-pleased prototypes of e-boys. But the actor has got his groove back with this cannibal love story with which Chalamet shines.

Chalamet straightforwardly plays the role of Lee, a young cannibal loner who meets Maren (Taylor Russell) and becomes the manic pixie dream boy she’s been needing all her life. He has red streaks, listens to KISS on vinyl while bouncing in his room, and cruises in the night to seduce men and eat them. While on paper Lee seems like a stereotype of the cute hipster misfit, Chalamet inhabits the character well and comes off as believable. His presence illuminates the screen as he effortlessly shifts between gentleness and lack of remorse.

And Taylor Russell holds her own as an established actor. The Waves actress portrays the wide-eyed Maren, a teen who must find her own way in the world after her parents give up on her. In many ways, it is her film and a coming-of-age one at that. The young woman is terrified of her impulses but fascinated with human flesh all the same. She wants to do what is right, but also can’t help getting into trouble. Russell depicts all these varied emotions and struggles with quiet vulnerability and tact.

When you combine the stellar performances of both Russell and Chalamet, it makes for a crackling chemistry between the two that makes the film such a good portrait of young love, passion, and pain. We root for this odd couple no matter how far they go past the grey line and feel the high emotions of first love along with them.

The supporting cast of cannibals is Chef’s Kiss

Another actor we must not forget is the great Mark Rylance as the mysterious eccentric Sully. In spite of Sully’s larger-than-life mannerisms and costume, and his tendency to appear in and out of Maren’s life, away from Lee’s gaze, we never doubt that he is a real person and not a figment of Maren’s imagination. The BFG actor smoothly transitions between being childlike, warm, threatening, and ominous in ways that are astounding and impressive, but also expected due to Rylance’s decades of experience on the British stage.

And last but not the least, let’s give a hand (meaning applause) to Michael Stuhlbarg who is a scene-stealing king. In Call Me By Your Name, the 54-year-old was a gentle, doting father. Not only a dad but a mentor figure to Chalamet’s teen. But in this film, Stuhlbarg is a menacing man-eater (in a bad way) who looks like he was thrown up by the earth itself. Covered in dirt and long tresses, his character Jake chases flesh where he can find it.

Delicious cinematography

The visuals are breathtaking. The shots of barren landscapes and open roads characteristic of the American midwest may have looked unoriginal in the hands of other cinematographers, but in the deft hands of Arseni Khachaturan, the visuals feel like bittersweet memories flashing before your eyes before you succumb to the eternal slumber.

The lush landscapes call to mind Badlands and Nomadland but are also brimming with unspoken feelings. Guadagnino knows exactly what vision he wants and we feel safe in his hands. The grainy film of the movie renders everything larger than life: more romantic, more tender, and more fragile. Maren and Lee are two young people cast out by society who only have each other. And that can be torn away from them at any time. It is certainly one of the most gorgeous films of 2022, which is something to be lauded because the budget behind it was not high.

The horrors of eating people

While it is billed as a horror and it definitely has terrifying moments, it is a tragic love story more than anything. Each scene shot and the moment is filled with so much longing and so many unspoken moments that at times, it hurts the heart to keep watching. Lee and Maren are young. So young and lost. And abandoned by their parents. They have secrets they can never share with the world and a taste for something that will never allow them to be like “normal people”. But it’s okay because they have each other; Maren and Lee say to each other, “I see you and accept your brokenness”.

The setbacks

Some viewers may find the film too slow and dry, or be let down after waiting for something to happen which doesn’t. If you watch it with specific expectations, you might be disappointed. I think the best way to get the most out of it is to wholly surrender yourself to Guadagnino & co., and let the music, poetic visuals, and amazing cast take you on a ride.

Minor spoilers ahead

While the film is definitely a big win for Guadagnino, Russell and Chalamet, I had some gripe with the ending. Without giving any spoilers, it felt clichéd for a romantic drama to end like that. Maybe that is just me. Some viewers thought it was inevitable and pushed the title of the movie to its punching line.

A more miniscule issue is the choice of the song in the last scene which felt, at least to me, out of place for a film that only deployed wordless scores up until then.

The views expressed in this article are that of the reviewer and do not reflect EastMojo’s position.

Also Read | ‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’: A heartwarming tale of love, sacrifice


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