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Review: Bones and All (2022)

Bones and All (2022)

Directed by: Luca Guadagnino

Premise: Based on the novel by Camille DeAngelis. A young woman (Taylor Russell) has a compulsion to eat human flesh. She meets a man (Timothée Chalamet) who has the same need and they travel the country together.

What Works: Bones and All is an interesting mix of horror and romance. The film is fundamentally a love story with two people finding each other and working out a way to live together. The cannibalism aspect of the story gives this film a unique angle similar to that of the vampire films Only Lovers Left Alive and Interview with the Vampire. The cannibals of Bones and All are not supernatural; they are mortal humans with a need to eat human flesh. But both cannibalism and vampirism have an inherent erotic quality that the filmmakers of Bones and All successfully exploit. Rather than leaning into the visceral horror, the movie is much more invested in building an impression of loneliness for which love is the cure. The love story of Bones and All works in part because its scenario emphasizes how these two people are right for each other. They won’t be able to have relationships with otherwise normal people and so they are each other’s best chance at love. That raises the stakes of their relationship. The love story also works because of the casting of actors Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet as Maren and Lee. Russell and Chalamet have a likable romantic chemistry and their relationship grows organically over the course of the film as they bond over their shared condition. Bones and All is beautifully shot. That’s most evident in landscape scenes but also in the moments of violence. The gore is used sparingly and to great effect, capturing the wet and organic nature of the human body.

What Doesn’t: The cannibals of Bones and All murder people in order to eat. The filmmakers and the characters mostly ignore the moral aspect of what these people are doing. Maren has some moral conflicts at first and she searches for her mother in the hope that discovering where she came from will yield an answer. Lee doesn’t have any qualms about what he’s doing which ought to make him a dangerous character. Bones and All hints at implications about human nature and the need to fulfill our desires but this idea isn’t explored very deeply and Maren forgets about her moral misgivings rather quickly. Because Bones and All treads between realism and the fantastic, the cannibalism is more figurative than literal. It’s what separates the two protagonists from the world and what draws them together.

Bottom Line: Bones and All is a beautifully made film with grisly subject matter. Despite featuring cannibalism, Bones and All is not really a horror picture. This is a love story and a very successful one. 

Episode: #929 (December 4, 2022)