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Review: Bones and All: Definitely romantic, unconventionally cannibalistic


Luca Guadagnino’s latest release, Bones and All, starring Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet, is a deft blend of the romance and horror genres. The film was released in select theaters in New York on November 18.

Vedang Lambe

Bones and All, Luca Guadagnino’s latest film starring Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet. The film is showing in select New York theaters. (Illustration by Vedang Lambe)

Spoiler Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Bones and All.

Luca Guadagnino’s latest feature, Bones and All, is a visceral, alchemical blend of romance and horror. From the first scene, Guadagnino’s film is full of blood.

The beginning of the movie looks like a typical high school coming of age movie. We meet Maren (Taylor Russell), a quiet, reserved girl with a strict father who is a freshman at a large public high school in Virginia. One day at school, a new friend convinces her to sneak off to spend the night with several girls. Despite her father’s habit of locking her in the bedroom after dinner, she successfully makes it to bed.

Her new classmates seem to have a crush on her. There are promising friendship prospects, even hints of a potential Sapphic connection. She lies on the floor, giggling with her host, whose ring finger is being painted with a new shade of nail polish: “copper fever.” She complains about the color being too orange, bringing her finger closer for Maren to take a look. Maren leans forward, gently places a finger in her mouth and bites it.

“Bones and all” is apparently not for everyone; several first screenings of the film informed about the exit by viewers who could not bear its graphic content. However, those who can stomach its gory imagery are likely to wonder: How can a movie so gruesome and gruesome be both tender and undeniably romantic?

Bones and All follows Maren and Lee (Timothy Chalamet), two cannibal lovers, as they travel through 80s America on a journey of self-discovery. Maren, recently abandoned by her father after her 18th birthday, meets a young drifter, Lee, and the two develop a strange and beautiful relationship. They live in a reality where cannibals lurk across the country, identifying each other by smell, living on the fringes of society where they hunt humans to satisfy their hunger for human flesh.

It’s impossible to sit through Guadagnino’s film without wondering what kind of metaphor he intended to portray in cannibalism. It is presented as a hereditary disease and a cruel curse that condemns its subject to eternal alienation, leading some to contrast this with issues such as generational trauma and abuse. Maren is constantly waging an internal battle with her voracious desires, while simultaneously battling a desperate desire for connection. She initially looks for that connection in her mother, who has been mysteriously absent her entire life, but eventually finds solace in Lee.

Maren and Lee have an unusual romance, to say the least. Isolated from the rest of society, the two engulf each other in a suffocating vortex of self-loathing and hatred. Their relationship is surprisingly deep and touching, drawing comparisons to similar outlaw romances such as those seen in Bonnie and Clyde and Badlands.

Russell gives a stunning performance as Maren, imbuing the character with sympathetic sincerity and vulnerability. Similarly, Chalamet lends Lee a natural charisma, giving the cannibal an incredibly charming look. Together, the two actors portray a tender relationship that is the film’s emotional anchor.

Another notable performance is that of the main antagonist, who is nervous and deeply troubled by Sally (Mark Rylance). When we first meet him, he slowly emerges from the shadows, and his appearance invariably evokes intense discomfort and anxiety. Every time he’s on screen, audiences are torn between wanting to laugh at his Southern drawl and strange mannerisms and watching his lifeless expression and disturbing unpredictability in horror.

Sally’s terrifying presence lurks on the periphery for most of the film, culminating in a grotesque and thrilling finale. The final scenes of Bones and All cement the film as what it was always meant to be: a tragic, devastating story of two lovers doomed to defeat by their innate, uncontrollable desires.

It’s safe to say that Bones and All is not for the faint of heart. Guadagnino’s latest film about a terrible longing and an equally insatiable need to be loved is one of the most memorable films of the year.

Contact Stephanie Wong at [email protected]

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