(Written by Allison Brown, and Intern, Amanda Davidowski)
If you liked Julia Ducournau’s Raw, you’re going to fall in love with Bones and All. My jaw was on the floor the entire movie. I could not take my eyes off the screen, even given the level of extreme gore. Bones and All is a disturbing yet oddly mesmerizing film. On paper, it is a cannibal love story. Guadagnino goes even deeper to depict the struggles of people who have felt like outsiders their entire lives, as they endeavor to find their footing in a world where they have never felt welcome.
Set in the 1980s, the film follows Maren Yearly (Taylor Russell), a young woman with quite a repulsive secret: a desire for human flesh. Left by her father, Frank (André Holland), to figure things out on her own, she decides to look for her mother, Janelle (Chloë Sevigny), for answers. Along the way, she learns that she is not the only one with this strange cannibalistic appetite. Sully (Mark Rylance), a middle-aged drifter, teaches Maren a few things about their kind, such as how to smell other “eaters,” as well as how to navigate this new world. He assures Maren that he does not eat others with this same ailment, and that he will not kill anyone before their prime; he solely waits for his prey to pass away naturally. Sully even claims he can smell those who are about to die. Unsettled by the man’s creepy demeanor and general lack of trustworthiness, Maren finds her opportunity to leave. She eventually meets Lee (Timothée Chalamet), another vagrant her own age who shares the same taste.
The way director Luca Guadagnino introduces each of the characters instantly draws in the audience. Rylance’s performance as Sully is extraordinarily unnerving; each scene where he features is sure to leave the viewer very uncomfortable. From Maren and Lee’s introductions, one is immediately intrigued and eager to learn more about each of them. Throughout the film, we watch Maren and Lee fall in love as they travel across the country. Maren learns more about her mother and Lee’s troubled background. More importantly, she starts to learn more about herself and accept who she is.
Bones and All is gross, disconcerting, brutal, and raw. I would not recommend eating while watching, especially if one has a weak stomach. The gore is on another level and put simply, shocking. I am sure the novel the film is based on is equally nauseating, if not worse, by its use of descriptive language and the reader’s potentially vivid imagination alone. Despite Maren and Lee’s cannibalistic tendencies, they are not portrayed as monsters. Of course, they commit horrible murders to feed their hunger, but this is just how they were born. They are both outcasts trying to fit in, and this is not easy for them.
Maren and Lee attempt to leave their pasts behind in an effort to create their own “normal” way of living, but of course, that can only last for so long. When one eats people in their free time, it isn’t really something easily fixed. Russell and Chalamet give outstanding performances. The two actors humanize their characters, allowing the audience to easily become attached. Their chemistry on screen feels so real, and beautifully replicates that notion of young love. I also loved Russell in Words on Bathroom Walls, which was a less gory and light-hearted romance compared to this film.
All I can say is when one sees this film, they will become a changed person. Not many narratives can provide that experience, but I can whole-heartedly say that Bones and All achieves that. It evokes a range of different emotions from sadness, disgust, fear, and anxiety, to warmth. It will even make evoke laughter at the quirkiness and oddities depicted on screen. Believe me when I say that Bones and All is about to become an instant horror classic.
Bones and All will eat viewers alive when it comes to theaters November 23rd, 2022. It screened at 2022’s Fantastic Fest.