Deputy Entertainment editor, Chloe Barrett, discusses the recent star studded body horror that is certainly not for the faint of heart.
From the acclaimed director Luca Guadagino, Bones and All is based off of the novel by Camille DeAngelis and tells the story of two new lovers who road trip across America together. Their sweetly sick romance is haunted by only one tiny detail: they are both cannibals.
Maren (Taylor Russell) is an eighteen year old who is sheltered by an overprotective father, one who keeps a desperate lock on any information regarding her absent mother. As a headstrong and slightly rebellious teenager, she sneaks out of their house to attend a sleepover with the intent of making some new friends and finally establishing herself in the ever changing period of the 1980’s. While she gazes into the eyes of a newly acquainted friend and they ponder a host of thoughts together, she gets the urge to lean in and bite the girl’s finger off. Unable to comprehend the situation while fleeing back to her home, her father instinctively reaches the conclusion and ushers Maren out of the house, changing their surnames and location while somehow being oddly calm about the whole cannibal thing. The story picks up from there, and after her father leaves his daughter to fend for herself with a cassette tape explaining that she has eaten people as a child, and her birth certificate, she embarks on a road trip with the goal of finding her mother.
Along the way, her journey leads her to encountering another cannibal, Sully (Mark Rylance), a character who I personally think is one of the scariest antagonists who has appeared on screen in recent times. Sully teaches Maren how to successfully feed and how to smell other ‘eaters’ (cannibals), while being adequately creepy enough that she soon bolts, leaving him behind. The part of the movie that teenage girls have been anxiously waiting for happens soon after, and Maren bumps into Lee (Timotheé Chalamet) who agrees to help out with her search after it is revealed that he too is an eater.
Their relationship takes up a large middle chunk of the movie, as their love for each other begins to blossom. While it is shrouded by the gruesome fate of being cannibals, there are tender moments that manage to break through while being backdropped with beautiful cinematography that makes the backend of America look dreamy. Lee takes it upon himself to show Maren how he lives his time as an eater, and the two inevitably learn quite a bit about each other. Lee dances to his favourite record in a charmingly goofy way while Maren fondly looks on, (inside the house of a person that Lee has freshly killed) and they ride around together in Lee’s old truck, making scenic pit stops that briefly makes the audience forget the bone chilling body-horror based plot line, which I think is where the movie really shines. Within their shared grisly world, the two manage to keep their love centred and somewhat innocent, as they bond over shared trauma and the mutual rejection that they receive from society and family alike. Even a simple date to a carnival, a normal outing for many, is an exhilarating experience as the two hold hands and make out on the Ferris wheel, forgetting their bloodthirst for a simple moment. Instead of rehashing a romance that everyone has seen before, Bones and All demonstrates the purity that love can bring while the world bleeds and shatters at every corner. The cannibalistic urge that plague them both is not a lifestyle either has chosen, but they decide to care for each other, finally making a choice of their own. Their love is constructed as a joint haven, the safe place where they can indulge the worst parts of themselves without anticipating the fearsome outcome.
If you have a strong stomach and want to be glued to the screen for an exhilarating two hours, check out Bones and All, which is now streaming. It is most definitely a unique take on the topic of modern love, but who knows, you might just find yourself rooting for two *fictional* cannibals.