Bones and All review: Cannibal lovers movie lacks heart

“Bones and All is another achingly romantic, occasionally terrifying film from director Luca Guadagnino that fails to reach the same levels as some of his previous work.”


  • Taylor Russell’s soulful lead performance

  • The scene-stealing side twists of Michael Stuhlbarg and Mark Rylance

  • The impressive cinematography of Arseni Khachaturan


  • Too slow a pace

  • A climax that misses the mark

  • clunky dialogue throughout

bones and all is a curiously vibrant and blood-stained addition to the American road movie canon. The film, shot on location in Ohio, reunites director Luca Guadagnino with his call me by your name star, Timothée Chalamet, in an adventure that takes the latter’s troubled young character across multiple Midwestern states. Joining them on the trip is Taylor Russell, a rising young star who is finally getting the attention she deserves in bones and allwhich casts her and Chalamet as a pair of nomadic cannibals struggling to find a place in a world populated by humans who understandably have little interest in being eaten.

Of many ways, bones and all it feels like an inevitable mix of the romance and horror genres that Guadagnino has played with in the past. His achingly romantic story reads like the forbidden romance the Italian director explored in call me by your namewhile its instances of blood-soaked violence are inevitably reminiscent of the moments of body horror present in Guadagnino’s 2018 reimagining of sighed. Yet for all its technically impressive parts, something is missing from bones and alla film that feels surprisingly tame given the content of its story.

Lee sits next to Maren in Bones and All.
Images by Yannis Drakoulidis/Metro Goldwyn Mayer

Based on a 2015 novel by Camille DeAngelis, bones and all follows Maren Yearly (Russell), a young woman whose cannibalistic urges finally force her to start her own life when she turns 18. While on a journey to find her mother absent from her, Maren crosses paths with Lee (Chalamet), a fellow cannibal who has become accustomed to the nomadic lifestyle for similar, if slightly more brutal, reasons than Maren. The two quickly grow close, engaging in a romance that is built on both Maren and Lee’s shared understanding and hunger.

Despite Maren’s desire to find her mother, bones and all it moves at a leisurely pace that makes its connection to and debt to the great American road movies of the past undeniably clear. Unusually acoustic Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor pluck the score it only drives home more bones and all‘s connection with movies like Paris, Texas, which draws as much on Ry Cooder’s folk music to establish its warm and painful mood as it does on Robby Müller’s usually glowing cinematography. To the movie credit, bones and all It may even be the most visually stunning exploration of rural America since Müller and director Wim Wenders made their fateful trip to the United States in 1984.

BONES AND ALL | Meet Lee – Featurette

Guadagnino and cinematographer Arseni Khachaturan not only fill bones and all with beautiful sun-drenched frames, but also highlight the mundanity of architecture and rural American life. All the houses in the film seem to creak and shake under the weight of their shoddy construction, and Guadagnino effectively juxtaposes the haunted atmosphere of bones and allold houses, factories and psychiatric hospitals with the freedom that the plains of the midwestern United States offer.

In a film that is often about the search for freedom and comfort, it is not a mistake that bones and all he frequently returns to images of his two leads sitting together utterly relaxed amidst the vast expanse of Ohio’s seemingly endless fields.

Maren and Lee walk in opposite directions across the Midwestern plains in Bones and All.
Images by Yannis Drakoulidis/Metro Goldwyn Mayer

What bones and all it has in its gorgeous textures and compositions, it ultimately lacks intensity. The film’s script is meandering and listless, which might not be a problem if it weren’t for the tragically brutal direction that bones and all finally take. Tonally and structurally, Guadagnino attempts to divide the difference between an American road movie, a teen romance, and a body horror film, but the film often presents itself and its story in such a nonchalant and unpretentious way that it ends up seeming emotionally flat.

Part of that stems from the fact that Chalamet feels woefully miscast as Lee. The actor’s previous collaboration with Guadagnino established him as a performer capable of portraying loneliness and longing in a tender way, but both he and his director are incapable of bringing Lee the same warmth and compelling inner conflict. That fact, combined with Chalamet’s inability to consistently sell bones and allThe occasionally clunky dialogue makes his performance feel oddly flat and one-note.

Russell, for his part, is doing much better. As Maren, the actress brings a youthful curiosity and sincere warmth that both the film and its central love story desperately need.

BONES AND ALL | Meet Maren – Featurette

Guadagnino, wisely or not, surrounds Russell and Chalamet with artists who are so much bigger and nastier than they are. Chief among the film’s supporting cast is Mark Rylance, whose role as a socially awkward cannibal named Sully alternates between a kind of pathetic neediness and terrifying obsession. Meanwhile, Michael Stuhlbarg nearly steals the entire movie in a scene that gives him the chance to appear wearing nothing more than denim overalls and deliver a monologue about the joys of devouring another human being while illuminated by the eerie amber light. from a nearby bonfire.

BONES AND ALL | theatrical trailer

It is in a scene from Stuhlbarg that bones and all it’s at its most dangerous and wicked, and that’s why it drags on so much longer than the rest of the film, which for all its moments of gut-wrenching cannibalism, lacks any real bite.

bones and all is playing in theaters now.

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