When it comes to lauded filmmaker Luca Guadagnino no subject matter is off the table, and you understand that it’s a work that will get inside your soul. That’s precisely where his horror-romance road movie Bones and All comes into play, and this film is without a doubt one of the most original and striking presentations of the entire year.
Love blossoms between a young woman on the margins of society and a disenfranchised drifter as they embark on a 3,000-mile odyssey through the backroads of America. However, despite their best efforts, all roads lead back to their terrifying pasts and a final stand that will determine whether their love can survive their differences.
Adapted from the cult novel by Camille DeAngelis, Bones and All is a film that blends the genres of horror and romance seamlessly and right from the start, you’ll be completely caught off guard in a fit of shock. Noted filmmaker Luca Guadagnino holds nothing back in this startling and chaotic piece of cinema, and the results will bring up many emotions in its audience. While not wanting to run too deep into the subject matter of the film for risk of spoilers, Bones and All follows the journey of Maren Yearly, who is portrayed in a stunning performance by Taylor Russell. Maren is a very peculiar and unusual girl who is described as an ‘eater’ or slang for cannibal and it’s this uncontrollable urge and habit that sets her off on a journey of discovery and acceptance. And audiences will find themselves wide-eyed with this feature.
Bones and All is a piece of pure creative expression on behalf of Guadagnino. Beautifully shot and brimming with burning pastel colours thanks to the eye of cinematographer Arseni Khachaturan and set to the emotion-stirring notes of composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Bones and All is a work of pure art. But this is art with a quickened pulse, and the line between horror and romance, monster and lover, good and evil are quickly blurred, with the audience completely sucked in. Guadagnino plays with plenty of contrast and juxtaposition within this narrative, and this story of two monsters who are trying to just make a life for themselves and almost try to control their urges leaves a big impression on audiences.
Cast in Bones and All’s lead as Maren Yearly, young actress Taylor Russell is an absolute revelation in the part and she brings real empathy to this tragic, dangerous and flawed character. With an unquenchable hunger to ‘eat’, Maren is a young woman who is desperate to find herself in mid-1980s America and her cross-country journey reveals a delicate soul who can’t get away from her monstrous nature. While Maren’s habits are nasty and violent, she is not necessarily a bad person, and much of the narrative centres on her trying to find a way to live with her monstrous urges. Russell disappears into the character of Maren, and you soon forget you’re watching an actress and instead are completely entranced by this very particular and original character.
Facing opposite Russell’s Maren and bringing a unique counter perspective to Bones and All is celebrated performer Timothée Chalamet who takes on the role of mysterious drifter Lee, and who rapidly becomes the centre of Maren’s world. Like Maren, Lee is himself an ‘eater’, and his rebel-without-a-cause, cowboy lifestyle hooks Maren in right from the start. With his punk rock looks and effortless strut, Chalamet ups the edginess of Bones and All and his performance is highly memorable. Like Maren, Lee is a complete contradiction of character, at one moment sensitive and loving, the next giving into his violent nature and bloodletting tastes. For Chalamet this is a performance that tests him and again clarifies his talent as an actor.
Guadagnino finds an incredible level of supporting talent in Bones and All through the presence of Sir Mark Rylance and Michael Stuhlbarg, with both leaving a sinister mark on the screen. Rylance takes on the role of Sully, a formidable ‘eater’ who becomes a sinister father figure to Maren early in the narrative, and the celebrated thespian gives an incredibly layered and textured performance as the character. Rylance’s performance sticks with you and his turn as Sully makes for a very unsavoury character. Then there’s Stuhlbarg who in one single scene brings a shockingly sinister and evil presence to Bones and All as Jake, an almost psycho redneck ‘eater’ who comes across Maren and Lee’s trail and his appearance will give audiences one hell of a fright.
Bones and All is without a doubt one of the year’s most original and layered presentations, and this is a piece of cinema that will get under your skin with its shocking subject matter and dramatic performances. For those audiences wanting something different, it’s a real treat and it delivers something very genuine and unexpected to the big screen.
Image: Universal Pictures