“Bones and All” review: Coming of age meets cannibalism


Courtesy of IMDb

Mia Oliva, Reviews Editor

Deriving its source material from the 2015 novel of the same name, Luca Guadagnino’s “Bones and All” is a provocatively compelling tale that—like most of Guadagnino’s work—encloses audiences in a blanket of introspection. From its use of cinematography and execution of montage to the chemistry and craft flaunted by its actors, “Bones and All” is a work of art that is so abominable yet stunning in nature that it manages to fall under the trope of a great film that can “only be watched once”. Nonetheless, I’d give it another go in spite of its reduced trepidation. 

From its first act of cannibalism to its final, nothing could’ve prepared me for the squeamish nature of this film. Set along Midwest state lines in the 1980s, the film follows 18-year-old cannibal Maren (Taylor Russell) who lives with her father (André Holland). After years of being burdened by her flesh-feeding instincts, Maren wakes up to find her father has fled without her. He leaves behind her birth certificate, a cassette, and some cash. Bemused, Maren sets off with the intent of finding her mother (Chloë Sevigny), along with answers as to why she is the way she is. Along the road, Maren crosses paths with others like her. First, she encounters Sully (Mark Rylance), a peculiar man who refers to their kind as “eaters” and claims he smelled her miles away. Shortly after, Maren meets Lee (Timothée Chalamet), a fellow eater who assists her in her expedition. The pair ultimately fall in love, anchoring the premise of the film. 

Guadagnino’s capacity to convey a message by meshing together two unlikely genres is rejuvenating in itself. While gore remains incessant to the plot, it poses as a metaphorical device for unconditional love and an allegory of mistaking compulsion for necessity. Guadagnino is able to portray something distressing in such a captivating manner, that it compels the audience to feel guilty for sympathizing with its narrative and its protagonists. Simply put, it’s the type of storyline that the audience must adapt to, rather than the storyline adapting itself to the audience. As a result, I can see how some individuals loved the film and others detested it. 

Russell and Chalamet’s performances are top-tier, but this comes as no surprise. Ever since starring in Guadagnino’s “Call Me by Your Name,” Chalamet has scored himself quite the resume. In just five years, the 26-year-old actor has proved himself a powerhouse to the industry with a range like none other this generation. His performance in “Bones and All” is explanatory as to why directors are so fond of working with him more than once. Russell gives a stellar performance as well, engrossing me with her craft just as she did in “Waves.”

While the two sealed the deal with the intensity of their chemistry, I would have liked to see more of a slow-burn romance. If I can recall, Maren and Lee met and “fell in love” within a span of five or six scenes. The dialogue lacked substance before their romantic buildup, instead being shoved into the later, concluding scenes of the film. If it weren’t for the actors’ believability, I’d argue the film wouldn’t have been as appealing as it is. 

If it lacked the means to leave audiences thinking about it days after watching it, this film would’ve been average at most. Nonetheless, Guadagnino–yet again–creates a piece of work that remains engrained in audiences’ minds. Without spoiling or saying much, I’ll say that it ends with the intent of interpretation. The montage in the final scene opens multiple perspectives that conclusively breathe life into the title of the film. Albeit a “first time’s the best time” watch for me, it prevails as an elegantly vexing and gracefully unsettling cinematic experience.


“Bones and All” is now available in theaters. 

Illustration by Ariel Landry