Bones and All (2022)

Bones and All
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Writer: David Kajganich
Based on: Camille DeAngelis‘ novel
Cast: Taylor Russell, Timothée Chalamet, Mark Rylance, André Holland, Anna Cobb, Sean Bridgers, David Gordon Green, Michael Stuhlbarg, Jessica Harper, Chloë Sevigny
Seen on: 25.11.2022

Content Note: ableism/saneism

Plot:
Maren (Taylor Russell) grows up with her father (André Holland). They move around a lot, mostly because every once in a while Maren just can’t resist taking a bite out of somebody. Literally. Her father does his best to keep her out of trouble and from harming people, but as soon as she’s 18 years old, he is gone, leaving her nothing but her birth certificate and a tape with some explanations. This gives her the chance to track down her mother, so Maren sets off. Along the way she realizes that she is not the only one out there who likes to eat people. One of her people is Lee (Timothée Chalamet) and the two of them decide to stick togehter for a while, albeit their very different understandings of being an Eater.

Bones and All is interesting and beautifully atmospheric, but doesn’t quite live up to what I’ve come to expect from a Guadagnino film. It’s not bad, but it’s not great either.

The film poster showing Maren (Taylor Russell) and Lee (Timothée Chalamet) leaning their heads together, making a heart shape.

I’ve only read the first chapter or so of the novel this is based on (I plan to read the rest), and there are some differences in the set-up already that I found quite interesting, so we’ll see how I see the film when I know the book in its entirety. In any case, I had a little difficulty with some parts of the film that dampened my enjoyment a little. For one, I never really got a sense what the flesh-eating was supposed to symbolize. Sexuality, hunger and need, destruction, especially the destruction of love – parts of all of it are there, but it nevery crystallized for me. It never really worked out. Maybe it wasn’t supposed to, but if that’s the case, I might understand even less about it.

I also struggled with Sully. Rylance portrays him wonderfully in his strangeness that still feels grounded somehow. But in this strangeness, one starts to wonder: does Sully maybe have a learning disability? Maybe he’s neurodiverse, or there is a mental health issue? And when the movie starts to style him into a big villain, this becomes a problem. “Not normal” is once again equated with danger – and in a film about flesh-eating people, this struck me as particularly weird as a narrative choice. The same goes for Maren’s mother (Chloë Sevigny), though at least here we can generously say that not accepting yourself as you are is what makes you dangerous.

Maren (Taylor Russell) and Lee (Timothée Chalamet) sitting in the bed of a truck together.

Russell is great as Maren, and this is her film in every sense. Chalamet brings his usual charm to a role that has become a little too familiar, especially when it comes to young adult romance – that of the cool boy with a secret that makes him vulnerable. Their roadtrip is beautifully captured in atmospheric images and a very nice score. It makes the biggest part of the film an absolute pleasure.

But much as with the symbolism of its central conceit, it never really comes to a satisfying end that would have rounded things off. Somehow the final oomph was missing – what that could have been.

Maren (Taylor Russell) talking to Sully (Mark Rylance).

Summarizing: worth watching but don’t expect too much.

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