By Frankie Rudnitz, Third Year, English
Bones and All (2022) is a romance, road trip, coming-of-age, cannibal horror. You may want to leave your cinema snacks at home for this one; it’s a lot to stomach. It is Luca Guadagnino, and Timothee Chalamet’s first reunion after the sun-drenched hit Call Me By Your Name (2017), which Guadagnino effortlessly blends with Susperia (2018) to create the grotesque love-child that is Bones and All.
The story, set in the 80s, follows Maren (Taylor Russell) as she is abandoned by her father and embarks on a road trip across the midwest. She soon runs into Lee (Timothee Chalamet), and the two find out that they have a lot in common as they survive on the margins of society. The film follows their drive through America as they attempt to cope with their shared struggle… which is relying on regular cannibalistic ‘feeds’ to survive.
Perhaps the most striking element of this movie is the tone changes. The film is constantly flitting from the most gruesome body horror you have ever seen to soft, lilac skies and first kisses.
The landscape really lends itself to this tonal shift, the vast empty roads of midwestern America being both incredibly sinister and isolating, but also the site of some really beautiful moments, like Maren and Lee embracing on the windy ridge. Guadagnino triumphs in his depiction of sleepy, rural America as a place where people can slip between the margins of society.
Russell is astounding as Maren. She is subtle and understated but observant of what is happening around her. Her inner moral battle with her urges to ‘feed,’ as they call it, plays beautifully with Lee, who is much more fragmented when working out his moral standpoint.
Chalamet’s performance is also incredible, bringing a unique ‘weirdness’ to his character through his creature-like physicality. This movie highlights what a unique actor Chalamet is - he was excellently cast in the role. The two actors have brilliant chemistry and play the eccentric lovebirds with depth and tenderness.
The universally unorthodox cast comes to its peak with Sully, who takes the cake for the weirdest character - and he’s competing against a bunch of cannibals. Sully has a creepy ponytail and a creaky old house where he stores the nearly-dead body of his next victim.
After encouraging Maren to feed with him, he wipes off his bloody hands on his white underwear, (which is all he’s wearing, by the way) and seems to be pretty indifferent. Sully has some pretty strong competition for the biggest weirdo, though, and Jake (Michael Stuhlbarg) and Brad (David Gordon Green) also have a brilliantly chilling interaction with the protagonists in a dark and empty field.
The film builds an ominous universe where it seems like everybody is either an ‘eater’ or will-be-eaten, which (spoiler) they usually are.
The sound design and special effects in the movie also deserve recognition. You can hear every crunch of bones and gulp of blood, which builds yet another layer of grotesqueness. The prosthetics team used different consistencies of silicone and plasticine to simulate a realistic image of Chalamet and Russell chomping down on whoever it may be.
The shock of having the ultimate taboo of eating another human, their bones and all, right in front of you, is pretty different to any other cinematic experience you’ve had this year.
Overall, Bones and All is a triumph. The film completely destroys any concept of genre and is a fantastic mess of horror, romance and coming-of-age. Guadagnino’s attention to detail creates a stunningly believable narrative that ties your stomach in knots and will stay with you for days afterwards.
Certainly a must-watch you have to sink your teeth into!
Featured Image: Yannis Drakoulidis/Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures Inc., courtesy of IMDB
Will you be tuning in to watch this grotesque masterpiece?