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Bones and All LFF Review

Directed by: Luca Guadagnino

Written by: David Kajganich

Starring: Taylor Russell, Timothee Chalamet, Mark Rylance

Film Review by Robert Stayte



Luca Guadagnino has been on a break film wise since his Suspiria remake, but he’s returned to doing his own take on the subject of cannibalism. Whilst there have been a number of films about cannibalism, blending that with a coming-of-age romance road trip narrative is a tricky tightrope to pull off, but thankfully it is a good and non-gross time at the cinema.

In 1988 America, Maren (Taylor Russell) is a teenager with an affliction for eating human flesh. Her single father (Andre Holland) abandons her and she is left on her own. She goes on a journey to find her mother (Chloe Sevigny) and along the way meets up with fellow cannibals Sully (Mark Rylance) and eventual love interest Lee (Timothee Chalamet), travelling with him and learning about Cannibalism.

The dark subject matter had the potential to weigh the film down in nastiness, but it does not do that because there is not a lot of violence. Altogether only a few individual sequences of blood and eating, but when these moments come, they are disturbing thanks to the convincing gore effects. The climax especially goes extreme and is a rather tense and emotional conclusion.

However, Bones and All focuses less on the violence and horror and more on the character journey of Maren and her relationship with Lee. Maren goes on the arc of trying to find her place via knowing about her past, meeting these cannibals and choosing her place. Lee is a supporting figure, yet we learn a lot about him too and both of these characters have a relationship that can be messy but also romantic and nice. The road trip structure gives us the chance to see them in different situations and learn how they react to them. It’s a decent narrative and a good journey that has both metaphorical underpinnings of addiction and being stuck in a toxic cycle and tells a love story that gets the heart going sometimes.

The high point of the film surprisingly is in the supporting characters/cast, as they act as an anchor that makes each individual section consistently good. Within single scenes, we learn a lot about these people and they sometimes get enough screentime to really leave an impact. There’s Andre Holland and Chloe Sevigny, who’s roles are voiceover heavy yet still deliver really good performances, but the standout is Rylance as Sully. Sully is almost a twisted and possessive father figure to Maren and he gets more and more desperate in his subsequent appearances, being a scary but also sympathetic character. Rylance’s performance is eery and creepy yet very natural and human, he dominates every scene.

Though the two leads are still strong, having good chemistry together and having great individual moments of powerful acting especially in that climax. Guadagnino direction can be understated sometimes, but other times his camerawork and editing will quicken and come to life which enhances what’s going on. It’s not a film that overstays it’s welcome despite the 130-minute runtime and the music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is emotional and reliant on guitar strings, a good score that sometimes becomes more traditional in the more tense moments.

Bones and All is another artistic success for Guadagnino, with an emotional core at its centre yet a harsher edge than something like I Am Love or Call Me By Your Name. For fans of both those and Suspiria this is a good blend of the two and a sometimes challenging but hopefully rewarding watch.


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