‘Bones and All (dir. Luca Guadagnino)
You would be forgiven for imagining a film that can be described as a cannibal-romance-roadtrip is an exploitative b movie, roughly shot on a shoe-string budget and indulging in images of stomach-turning gore. Though the latter does bear some resemblance to the truth of the film (it delights in visceral images and sounds of tearing flesh), Luca Guadagnino’s adaptation of Camille DeAngelis’s novel is a haunting and heartfelt exploration of the search for community in the face of ostracisation.
Bones and All revolves around eighteen-year old Maren (Taylor Russell), a ‘feeder’ on a journey to find answers about her peculiar condition from the mother who abandoned her. On the way, she meets fellow ‘feeders’: Sully (Mark Rylance, mustering all the menace he possibly can), and kindred spirit Lee (Timothée Chalamet). If you were ever even slightly sceptical of Chalamet’s talent (as I was), his turn as the disaffected young adult confirms that he is one of the best actors of his generation. He disappears entirely within the role, as does Russell. Both bring such believability to their characters that there is never a moment in which to stop to consider quite how ludicrous an edgy, art-house cannibal film has the potential to be. But in Guadagnino’s deft hands, the film never falters, perfectly paced and entirely engaging. Though there are instances of connection drawn between the social condition of ‘feeders’ and other marginalised groups against the backdrop of the Reagan administration, Guadagnino avoids presenting any cut-and-dry parallels. There is an admirable subtlety to the story that allows its coming-of-age narrative to shine.
However, this is not a film for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach. Costume designer Giulia Piersanti ensures Maren, Lee, and all they encounter on the road appear like sartorial scavengers, their ill-fitting clothes stained with dirt, sweat, and flecks of blood. The visual cohesiveness of the film must be credited to Arseni Khachaturan’s cinematography, which gives the film—though set in the ‘80s USA—a timeless, dreamlike quality. Shots linger around the edges of the day, revelling in the quiet and tranquility of sunrise and sunset, warm hues bridging the disconnect between the romance plot and genre elements through a sense of distant nostalgia.
The most unexpectedly touching love story of the year—as well as the most shockingly bloody—Bones and All is a marvelous contemplation on love and growing up that is sure to become both a coming-of-age, and horror, classic.
Eve Connor [she/her] @_eve_alicia_
[Image credit: mamasgeekly.com]