Bones and All, a film about loneliness, a coming-of-age tale, and occasionally a horror, is directed by Luca Guadagnino from a script by David Kajganich. The latter is the worst element of the movie, and Guadagnino only dabbles in it before backing off. Although Bones and All is too subdued to be a true horror movie, its other elements have substance. Bones and All isn’t always strong, but Taylor Russell gives a fantastic leading performance and excels in examining human connection. It’s frequently sluggish and surprisingly disturbing.
Bones and All, a film adaptation of Camille DeAngelis’ book, centers on Maren (Taylor Russell), an original adolescent. Although she is alone, the spectator quickly understands why: Maren has been a cannibal since she was a baby. They have had to travel around a lot to stay safe, and her father (André Holland) has always known. Maren’s father deserts her after she becomes 18 and she is left to care for herself. First meeting Sully (Mark Rylance) on her own, Maren learns the ropes from him about when and how to feed as well as which victims to pick to not draw attention to herself. Later, Lee (Timothée Chalamet), another recluse cannibal with his own set of psychological issues, is introduced to Maren. The two go on a road journey to look for Maren’s mother, falling in love along the way.
Taylor Russell’s quiet, subdued, yet rich with nuance and a depth that bespeaks much thought, performance elevates Bones and All. Despite the film’s flimsy script, Russell gets a lot of mileage out of it. Despite Sully’s intentions, Mark Rylance is eerie and captivating in the role. The actor effortlessly transitions into Sully’s peculiarity and makes his scenes some of the most intense ones the movie has to offer.
The movie occasionally comes out as aimless, especially in the middle when it starts to meander, but it finds its focus in its examination of human connection and what long-term isolation compounded with misogyny and entitlement can do to a person. People aren’t supposed to be alone, and although the cannibals don’t have a strong sense of community, Maren finds love and comfort with Lee, and their relationship is made stronger by their shared identity. When this happens, the plot really takes off since it gives the two characters a chance to get to know one another better, mature, and possibly even come to the realization that they can stay on the periphery of society as long as they have each other.
Even though the movie isn’t really a horror movie, there are some story themes and situations that can be very disturbing, sticking with the characters and having an impact on their emotional journeys. Having said that, Bones and All might have benefited from a more macabre atmosphere, if only to make the movie’s plot more spooky and raise the tension, which is quite low. The depth that rises to the surface isn’t thoroughly explored by Guadagnino, who also directed Call Me By Your Name, and Chalamet’s character and performance lack the honesty necessary to carry the film.
However, when Bones and All shifts its attention inward and toward the people, it still manages to be entertaining to watch. Their individual journeys, especially Maren’s, may be captivating and profound, full of grief and optimism, beauty and rage. After becoming monotonous for a while, the movie picks back up, and as its layers are revealed, it reveals the humanity, love, and hope that are deeply ingrained in its narrative.