“Bones and All” - Movie Review
*This article contains mentions of blood and gore that could trigger some readers. Read at your own discretion.*
“Bones and All” is a film that brings a lot to the table – the genre-mashing of horror and coming-of-age, impeccable casting choices, and visionary directing of Luca Guadagnino just to start.
While it was marketed mainly as a horror film due to the thematic elements, at the heart of “Bones and All” was the story of two outcasts who found salvation in each other when the world simply could never accept them.
Those outcasts, of course, are cannibals.
The film opens quietly at first, at a high school seemingly set in the 80s based on the hair and costume choices, with a girl asking her friend to come over for a girls night at her house after school.
A scene or two later, and the two girls are laying on the floor together painting nails when the friend bites into her host’s finger, severing it completely.
There it is, the gruesome undertone of the film taking off with a bang.
“Bones and All” stars Oscar-nominated actor Timothee Chalamet and breakout star Taylor Russell as Lee and Maren respectively, both labeled as “eaters,” or people who feast on a combination of normal food and human flesh.
Maren’s father deserted her after the finger-biting incident, leaving her nothing but a couple hundred dollars and a tape recording explaining her condition. She leaves her home in search of her mother, also an eater, and hopes she can provide answers about how to live in society while coping with the consuming hunger inside her.
She meets Lee on her journey after identifying him as a fellow eater, and the pair join forces to find Maren’s mother.
One of the most delectable elements of “Bones and All’ was the stark contrast between the cinematography for the coming-of-age road trip scenes, and the cannibalism bits.
Cinematographer Arseni Khachaturan utilizes a soft palette of blues, beiges, and whites to paint a nostalgic 80s landscape for the romantic scenes between Maren and Lee as they slowly fall for each other.
But just when the audience falls into a false sense of comfort and fondness for the couple, the sun goes down and Lee murders a man for their dinner. Red blood and black bone explode across the screen, making it hard to not look away.
These two genres should not work together as well as they did, especially with the taboo subject of cannibalism at the forefront. But Guadagnino’s seamless transitions and direction create a gorgeously haunting world where beauty and barbarity can co-exist.
There is no denying that Taylor Russell is the star of this film. While Chalamet gave “Bones and All” the starpower it needed to succeed, Russell’s portrayal of the morally-conflicted Maren proves that with the right care, any character can be humanized and empathized with - even if they eat people.
Chalamet (who also served as a producer on “Bones and All”) continues to deliver performances that solidify him as one of the greatest actors of this generation. Throughout the film, Lee struggles to deal with the consequences of his actions, since he has to feed on humans to survive but hates killing people.
Towards the end of the film, Lee desperately asks Maren “You don’t think I’m a bad person?” to which she responds, “All I think is that I love you.”
The romantically crafted script somehow adds even more artistic flavor to “Bones and All.”
It would be a disservice to not mention Mark Rylance’s impressive supporting role as Sully, a fellow eater with an unsettling aura about him from the moment he steps into frame. He stalks Maren on the road trip and becomes obsessively jealous of her relationship with Lee, even though he is at least forty to fifty years her senior.
His involvement in the film’s gruesome conclusion certainly made stomachs churn, but also opened the door for the tragic ending.
The final shot of “Bones and All” is ambiguous enough to get audience members talking after the credits roll, which is arguably the best way to end a movie.
From start to finish, Guadagnino’s “Bones and All” was a cinematic experience that certainly left a bad taste in some viewer’s mouths, but was undeniably one of the most overall well-crafted film entries of 2022.
Kaitlyn Murphy is a first-year majoring in digital and print journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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