Bones and All (Review) – Come Dine With ‘thée

DIRECTOR: Luca Guadagnino

CAST: Taylor Russell, Timothée Chalamet, Mark Rylance, Michael Stuhlbarg, André Holland, Chloë Sevigny, David Gordon Green, Jessica Harper, Jake Horowitz, Anna Cobb, Francesca Scorsese, Kendle Coffey

RUNNING TIME: 130 mins

CERTIFICATE: 15

BASICALLY…: A pair of young cannibals (Russell and Chalamet) roam across America together…

NOW FOR THE REVIEW…

Timothée Chalamet’s career has seriously skyrocketed over the last few years, and I absolutely love the fact that his big breakout film wasn’t a YA movie or a superhero flick, but rather filmmaker Luca Guadagnino’s tender and gorgeous gay romance Call Me By Your Name, in which his character at one point has some, erm, fruitful relations with a peach. The good news is that both actor and director are back together for Bones and All, a film that may not feature any scenes with fruit, but has plenty of other fleshy and much more meaty items on the menu – and, much like their last collaboration, it’s a laid-back and fascinating ride that brings out the best in both Guadagnino and Chalamet (both also serving as producers on the film).

The real lead of the film, though, is Taylor Russell, in a potential breakout position not unlike Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name. She plays Maren, a high school student who at first seems to live a rather restrictive life with her single father (André Holland), but very quickly we find out why: she’s a cannibal, with an acute appetite for human flesh, and when that side of her comes out at a sleepover, she is forced to leave her normal life behind. Deciding to seek out her birth mother, Maren travels across the country any way she can, and comes across others who, like her, also like to feed on other people. Chief among them is Lee (Chalamet), a young drifter who takes Maren under his wing, and a special bond grows between them as they travel together towards their desired destinations – but there are other cannibals, namely an unnerving fellow named Sully (Mark Rylance), who threaten to get in the way of their happiness.

Oddly enough, Bones and All serves as a rather fitting companion piece to Call Me By Your Name, as both deal with characters coming of age amidst an intimate 80s-set romance; one of them just happens to feature more scenes of people chomping on dead bodies. In both cases, Guadagnino offers a delicate and evenly balanced depiction of youthful passion, with a vibrant filmmaking style that feels old-fashioned but also new and invigorating at the same time. Here, things like the editing, cinematography, and an unusually atmospheric score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross all use certain tricks to capture the growing unease that builds within both our young protagonists, leaving both them and the viewer slightly discombobulated by some of the rapid-fire choices that deliberately mess with all involved heads. Like the director’s recent remake of Suspiria, everything is finely tuned to where you feel a sense of comfort in even the most uncomfortable scenes, and when certain scenarios eventually reach their crescendo, or at the very least their most logical endpoint, Guadagnino pulls back enough to let the reaction play itself out before moving on to the next disturbing encounter. At times, the director even plays around with title cards – mostly to spell out the name of the state we’re currently in – to invoke the fluidity of our flesh-hungry characters’ journey, if the transparent text style is anything to go by.

As for Chalamet, he makes the most out of reuniting with the director of his previous breakout role, delivering an excellent and often emotional performance that is both haunting and mesmerising at once. However, it is Taylor Russell who emerges as the film’s true heart and soul, and like her co-star she has an extremely curious presence about her which gives off a false sense of innocence that surprises you at just about every turn. Both Russell and Chalamet are great together, sharing a believable chemistry that develops gradually over the course of the film, which is complimented by their naturalistic turns which heighten the overall mood as you want these radical outsiders to end up together once and for all. Special mention must also go to Mark Rylance, who all but steals the entire film as an antagonist that is such a creepy presence that being a cannibal only ranks as the seventh-weirdest thing about him; also keep an eye out for Michael Stuhlbarg – another Call Me By Your Name holdover – as an unsettling hillbilly flesh-eater who delivers one hell of a monologue around an open fire (one that’s not quite as powerful as his climactic speech at the end of Call Me By Your Name, but leaves enough of an impact to still be memorable).

Fans of the actor and director’s last collaboration may find themselves somewhat taken aback by some of the extreme violence and darker tone that’s closer to something like Badlands or Bonnie and Clyde than anything else, but Bones and All offers plenty of rich, fulfilling and surprisingly sweet tastes for them to chew on all the same. It has plenty of engrossing romance, plentiful dialogue, gentle depictions of youthful zest, and of course blood-drenched scenes of chewed-up bodies to satisfy most genre fans, but also enough artistic merit to pass as a formidable film in its own right. It is an atmospheric, stylish, and highly accomplished new work from a filmmaker with plenty of spark still left in him, and a co-lead actor who has rightfully grown more and more in popularity since the days when he was just known as that young guy who once pleasured himself to a piece of fruit for the whole world to see.

SO, TO SUM UP…

Bones and All is a plentiful and engrossingly dark romantic horror, which director Luca Guadagnino blankets with a passionate style that captures the youthful zest of his outsider main characters, portrayed by the excellent duo of Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet (with scene-stealing support from Mark Rylance) who drive their flesh-eating journey toward a series of emotional and highly accomplished moments that you can’t help but fall in love with – when you’re not feeling queasy from all of the cannibalism.

Bones and All will be released in cinemas nationwide on Wednesday 23rd November 2022 – click here to find a screening near you!

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