Bones and All review: An ancient love story brought to new life

The impulse to equate young love with fate and mortality probably goes back far beyond Shakespeare and Romeo and Juliet. It’s such a natural narrative pairing: first loves rarely last and youth definitely doesn’t.

For most people, that searing intensity of youthful love – the feeling of infatuation and discovery “Everything is new and wonderful, and we are the first people to experience sex” – is in danger of fading quickly. And for adults looking back on that era in their lives, the sense of loss and longing can be similar to the emotions one feels when navigating death. But seldom has the metaphor been as startlingly vivid as in that of Luca Guadagnino Bones and alla gory shocker that comes with many familiar horror movie elements, but plays much more like a classic road romance.

It’s a strange film, seemingly designed to confuse both fans of Guadagnino’s previous horror-influenced flick, the messy 2018 crime remake You sighand fans of his 2017 gay romance Call me by your name. While Bones and all connects these two films so starkly that it seems calculated, it also raises the question of how much audience crossover there might be between the two films. Horror hounds may be disappointed by how much of the film is a low-key relationship drama and coming-of-age story, short on breathless tension and scares. Fans of the romantic drama are sure to see more bloody evisceration than they’re used to in their films. But for genre-agnostic cinephiles, the sheer audacity and uniqueness of the story — an adaptation of Camille DeAngelis’ 2015 novel of the same name — will be a big part of the draw.

Photo: Yannis Drakoulidis/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures

Bones and all brings together Guadagnino and Call me by your name starring Timothée Chalamet for a second love story. But it takes a while for Chalamet to enter the picture. Initially, the film focuses on Maren (WavesTaylor Russell), a high schooler with a number of secrets. Maren lives alone with her father (André Holland) in a dilapidated and dilapidated house. A stealthy sense of shame hangs over all the little details of their home and their interactions, but it takes a while for the film to reveal why it’s true and what they’re both navigating. And when the revelations come, they’re terrifying and hilarious at the same time, in part because the details are so unexpected.

Besides coming in prepared for massive amounts of blood and some brief, intense violence, Bones and all it’s the kind of film that is better experienced in the moment than in the descriptions. Each new revelation about Maren’s past and present is carefully explained, in part because she doesn’t truly understand her own nature and must know it together with the audience. Screenwriter David Kajganich (writer-producer-developer of the beloved horror series The terror) never feels like he’s in a hurry to get to a particular part of the story. He and Guadagnino make a lot of room for Maren to learn through conversations, first with new acquaintance Sully (Bridge of Spies‘ Mark Rylance, once again disappearing in a stunning performance), then with new acquaintance Lee (Chalamet), a wise guy his age.

Viewers who don’t already know the film’s core premise and want to experience it in theater should stop reading right here. The first summaries of the trailer and the festival for Bones and all they were coy about what makes Maren, Lee and others different, but public descriptions of the film have largely shared the secret: Bones and allThe wide-eyed central pair of are both “Eaters”, effectively ghouls driven to devour human flesh. Their victims don’t have to be alive, but once they start consuming human bodies, they must continue or die. Bones and all follows more or less in the footsteps of the films of Bonnie and Clyde by Terrence Malick Badlands about putting a couple of beautiful people on the wrong side of the law and sending them on the run, but in this case it’s debatable how humane they are. And their crimes aren’t sexy and elegant, like the bank robberies of Bonnie and Clyde or the vampire murders in Hunger — Guadagnino makes the rituals of consumption bloody, grotesque and animalistic, an unpleasant matter of survival.

All of which gives him more room to play when it comes to romanticizing Lee and Maren’s connection. There’s a centuries-old tradition of sexualizing monsters and predatory behavior, and… Bones and all leans against it strongly, while building the story around the old patterns of training the protagonists who find themselves (and find their courage in the process). Maren has a lot to explore: a family mystery, her first love, her first understanding that there are other Eaters and the rules that bind them. But above all, she must understand who is in Lee’s shadow, and outside of it. He knows far more about the world and Eater’s life than she does, but she knows more about what she wants and who she hopes to be, and he has to navigate how her desires meet her understanding of the world.

Lee (Timothée Chalamet) and Maren (Taylor Russell) stand in a wide green field under a wide bright blue sky filled with fluffy white clouds in Bones and All

Photo: Yannis Drakoulidis/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures

Like it Call me by your name, Bones and all is a sensual film, particularly visually: Guadagnino revels in the kind of big-sky-and-country panoramas that made Andrea Arnold’s summer-vacation theme similar American honey so memorable, and lights its wires warmly during the day and with furtive fervor at night. But it’s most notable for the way he and Kajganich navigate the back and forth between the story’s romantic elements and horror themes. There’s a big metaphor at play here about how parents, families, and friends allow for aberrant behavior until it seems normal, and how being shielded from the world can make it difficult to enter properly. And it plays in radically different ways at the same time: both through the lens of two little boys on a romantic road trip, and as two growing monsters who seduce and kill other people for food.

There’s an equally complex sense of attraction and repulsion at play in Maren and Lee’s relationship. They’re very different people who rarely seem right for each other, but they also have that central unshakable resemblance in common, and the fact that neither of them know another Eater their age unites them, even when they’re infuriating each other. with their conflicting goals and beliefs. The filmmakers keep the questions buzzing with tense intensity throughout the film: Should these kids stick together or go their separate ways? Do they help each other as much as they hurt each other? It’s very complicated for a film about young loves, and Guadagnino makes the boundaries of their relationship far more tense than any questions about who might be hunting them or who they might be hunting.

Bones and all it’s going to be a tough sell for many moviegoers, given the strange way it straddles genres and tones. There is almost a camp element to the ways Guadagnino juxtaposes the attractive image of Lee and Maren silently holding each other in a private moment, and the repulsive image of them smeared in dark arterial blood, which coagulates and attracts flies as they flee from the corpse of their latest victim. But the skill throughout the film is impressive and compelling. The casting and performances are staggeringly great, particularly when a nearly unrecognizable Michael Stuhlbarg and director David Gordon Green show up for a stunning single shot cameo. And the whole enterprise is delightfully weird, the kind of movie that leaves people walking away thinking “I’ve never seen anything like this That before.” This film taps into some old, old tropes and familiar ideas. But it does so in a way that makes them feel as new and fresh and exhilarating as young love itself.

Bones and all it’s in theaters now.

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