Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet in 'Bones and All'

‘Bones and All’ Review: Fine Young Cannibals

This horror/road trip/teen romance is at turns unsettling, beautiful, and sad

How best to describe the kind of movie Bones and All is? Is it a horror film? There are horror elements, certainly, as we watch our protagonist Maren (​​Taylor Russell) and her fellow cannibals crouching over a corpse, the squelch and crunch of flesh as they feed. But it’s also a road trip movie, as Maren finds kinship with fellow cannibal Lee (Timothée Chalamet) and the pair embark on a journey across the Midwest in search of her past. There’s coming-of-age teen romance, too, as the two youths fall in love and struggle to survive in a world that insists they should feel bad for doing what their bodies tell them is right. 

Through everything Bones and All is ultimately a story about need. The need to be the person you were born to be, the need to find connection with other people. There’s also the need to protect yourself from those who try to prey upon you, which in this film is not just a metaphor. The pair are stalked by fellow flesh-eater Sully (Mark Rylance), who gives off flashing red “creepy weirdo” signals with his stalker van and habit of referring to himself in the third person. 

Sully represents the kind of life that waits for Maren and Lee if they succumb to the isolation and emotional detachment their kind must adopt to survive. The pair are predators, yes, but they are also victims of abuse and abandonment. There’s a profound loneliness at the edges of the film as hinted at by the soft, lilting score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

With this film director Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name, Suspiria) once again demonstrates his mastery of the cinema of small things. He and cinematographer Arseni Khachaturan allow the camera to linger on the space his characters inhabit. Guadagnino’s films are as much about places as they are about people. The Rust Belt might not be as glamorous as Berlin or coastal Italy (production designer Victoria Resendez gives a masterclass in designing garbage houses), yet there’s a romanticism all the same to a couple of young people road-tripping through rolling fields, having picnics in the grass, reveling in their own freedom and the knowledge the other won’t recoil in horror at their true selves. Bones and All is at turns unsettling, beautiful, and sad.

Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This review was made possible by donations to the Fall Movie Fundraiser for Indigenous Abortion Access. Missed your chance to donate? You still can!


Kristen Grote is a freelance film and culture critic. Follow her on Twitter and Letterboxd.