To beautifully romanticize a love story with the backbone of gory cannibalism is a feat in its own right. That’s exactly what Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino achieves with his latest romance, Bones and All.
The film follows Maren (Taylor Russell), a poverty-stricken shy teen who is living with her dad (André Holland). Maren isn’t like other girls. At a sleepover, she has an insatiable desire for human flesh and chews off a classmate’s finger. She runs home with blood dripping down her face and one look from her father says it all. He has known for a while – Maren’s first taste was that of a babysitter when she was three.
They pack up once again and leave for Maryland. However, Frank can no longer care for Maren. Her baggage is too much to bear, so he leaves her with a birth certificate, some cash, and a tape explaining himself and her past.
She goes on a road trip to find answers to explain her unconventional appetite. She meets other “eaters” like Sully (Mark Rylance) and one who gets her: Lee (Timothée Chalamet). Together, they find meaning in the world and with each other.
Bones and All is artful, poetic and deeply haunting as it captures the loneliness of two savage soulmates existing on the sidelines in society as they secretly feed on human flesh. In someone else’s hands, a cannibal love story could have been distasteful, but Guadagnino relished the opportunity to make this more than what meets the eye.
Timothée Chalamet (Dune) and Taylor Russell (Waves) delicately turn what society deemed as monsters into heartbreaking and sympathetic young outsiders. Instead of disgust, they draw affection and together draw strong performances from each other. Russell gives a layered performance in the quiet moments where she commands the screen. Chalamet proves yet again that there’s no role he can’t tackle. He brings a raw edge to the rebelliousness of Lee and he triumphs in the most vulnerable moments.
If anything, the film’s pacing is slow and takes its time, so some audiences might struggle to hold their interest. Mark Rylance, however, chews up every scene and more than makes up for the slow narrative.
Gory? Yes, but Bones and All is an absolutely delicious watch. It showcases a different romantic idealism that’s perhaps rarely caught on film.