Bones and All review: Gorgeous blood romance

After his appearance at the Venice Film Festival where he won prizes, Bones and All was one of the big expectations of this end of the year. This cannibalistic romance with Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet surprises in more ways than one, by the director of Call Me By Your Name.

After the triumph of Call Me By Your Name, Luca Guadagnino finds Timothée Chalamet for Bones and All, adapted from the eponymous novel by Camille DeAngelis. The story takes place in 1988 in the Northeast of the United States, and we discover the young Maren Yearly (Taylor Russell). The latter has everything of a normal young woman, except for one particularity. She lives alone in a mobile home with her father Frank (Andrew Holland), and sleeps with a latch bolt on his bedroom door.

As she sneaks out one evening to attend a party with friends, Maren will reveal to the viewer violent cannibal impulses. Now alone and on the run, the latter will try to find her mother in order to better understand her origins. Maren will meet other individuals like her, like Lee (Timothée Chalamet), an individual living on the margins of society. From this meeting will be born a romance, in a road-trip that will change our two protagonists..

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Luca Guadagnino had become known above all for his dramas with a pronounced solar atmosphere (in particular A Bigger Splash), before his remake of Suspiria (interesting but representing the anti-thesis of his cinema) operates a certain change via a much more arid approach. After his passage at HBO (for the very good mini-series We Are Who We Are) where the question of identity was at the center of the project, the Italian filmmaker continues to explore his favorite theme with Bones and All, while operating a magnificently digested marriage of genres !

In search of the flesh being

Thereby, Bones and All can be approached by several prisms which are all worth as much as one another. A road movie to the Wild Ballad/Bonnie & Clyde, coming-of-age story in search of its roots in order to build itself better, romance filled with tenderness between marginalized people in a society that is still little adept at otherness, or else genre film embracing head-on the notion of cannibalism. Because yes, the footage can be seen as another reinterpretation of the vampire mythwith these individuals who love fresh flesh.

Cannibals often seized with murderous impulses at the call of blood, who try to survive by imposing certain rules on themselves, more or less spare the innocent, while their over-developed sense of smell allows them to smell each other at several dozen meters away. Fantastico-horror aspect put aside, Maren’s journey is meant to be a cruelly intimate odyssey (and often familiar to anyone who has seen coming-of-age stories), but nonetheless relevant and universal as she finds her place in this world.

Bones and All review: Gorgeous blood romance
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And while the “eaters” encountered all operate according to the same principle, Guadagnino and his screenwriter David Kajganich (The Terror) impose no precise rules except those that individuals adopt according to their moral compass. Some only attack dying old people, others take malicious pleasure in killing (Michael Stulhbarg and David GordonGreen moreover make a succinct but relatively striking appearance as cannibals with a sociopathic tendency). A way to significantly raise the moral stakes of our characterswho have no choice but to give in to their impulses, repress them by locking themselves up or commit suicide.

The tenderness that takes to the guts

So we’re not far from the movie freaks so where Bones and All manages to operate a highly held balancing act, between extremely graphic violence (yes the film is violent and gore without being complacent) and absolute sweetness. Guadagnino once again shows his skill in filming human contact, the spleen or even the tenderness of a budding love between two characters. Whether it’s an awkward first kiss, hugs at the golden houra swim in a Kentucky lake, or the scrolling rural landscapes of a cinegenic Americana, Guadagnino brings the right look via a sense of wonder.

Thus, despite outbursts of violence or despair (the climax will undoubtedly come from a sequence without a single drop of blood with a Chloe Sevigny transfigured), Bones and All maintains a constant soaring and airy aspect, coexisting with its rawer protrusions. In addition to a warm photography, it is thanks to the formidable composition of Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross (The Social Network, Gone Girl, Drunk, watch men). The duo gratifies us with magnificent music mixing sounds from the synthesizer and strings of the most beautiful effect, not so far from the style of Gustavo Santaolalla (The Last of Us).

Bones and All review: Gorgeous blood romance
© Warner Bros.

If the emotion is very present, we may regret that the narrative articulation does not lead its characters on a more heartbreaking and overwhelming path (the final purity of Call Me By Your Name is not repeated). However, Bones and All impresses and surprises in more than one way through the axes chosen by its director to tell us about this intimate journey. And of course, its formidable cast is an integral part of the great success of the film!

Bones and All or the romance between actors who eat the screen

We no longer need to introduce Timothée Chalamet, who since his previous film with Guadagnino conquered the various Hollywood strata (Dunes, The French Dispatch, The king). Here, he finds one of his best roles as a nomad seeking to exist and forge an emotional bond. However, Bones and All reveal is indeed Taylor Russell. If the actress had already made a strong impression in the very successful waveshere she floods each scene with a delicacy as pronounced as the direction of Guadagnino. As much a main character as an avatar of the spectator, Maren brings a candor, a vulnerability and a force of conviction in order to compose an endearing protagonist despite her withdrawn and isolated appearance. In terms of the secondary cast, we note the presence of Mark Rylance (The Bridge of Spies, Ready Player One) in a completely counter-intuitive role, which leaves a strong impression with each appearance.

Ultimately, Bones and All brings its melting pot of influences in a totally organic way, while totally embracing the delicate gaze of its director.. Carried by a superb cast, captivating music, landscapes sublimated by careful photography and a graphic aspect as surprising as its poetic aspect, we hold there simply one of the most beautiful of the year ! A reflection on addiction, the quest for identity, difference or family ghosts that we revel in every second.

Bones and All hits theaters November 23, 2022




Bones and All imposes Luca Guadagnino a little more as one of the most exciting filmmakers today. If Timothée Chalamet has a new prestigious role on his list, it is Taylor Russell who shines in this superb road-movie with skin-deep sensitivity. A graphic genre film as well as an intimate romance, which stands out as one of the most unique feature films of the year!

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Bones and All review: Gorgeous blood romance