Bones and All


‘…somehow Bones And All doesn’t add up to much more than an alternative Twilight universe; other than the usual observation of teenage outsiders who refuse to conform to the worst of societal norms, there’s not much else for audience to feast on…’

‘I ate my own granddad!’ proclaims one of the characters in Luca Guadagnino’s gritty, grimy, gristly horror romance, based on YA novel Bones & All by Camille DeAngelis and playing like a Twilight teen fever-dream with added depth and pretention. Working again with screenwriter David Kajganich, who made something of a botch of his madcap Suspiria remake, Guadagnino has constructed a lengthy (130 mins) road movie about two lovers fleeing an unwanted tragic destiny; it’s the same old story, but jazzed up with some good acting and a few nasty bursts of gore.

So we’re talking about some fine young cannibals; Maren Yeary (the excellent Taylor Russell) doesn’t yet know about her own peculiar genetic make-up. Her dad clearly does; he locks her in her room at night to stop her from getting out and munching on her pals. You can insert you own parental repression, cannibalism= sexuality metaphor here, and since Guadagnino loves a few dashes of self-serious political allusion, we get a dash of footage showing disgraced NYC mayor Rudi Giuliani; the setting is the scuzzy, disreputable 80’s as seen from now. Maren can’t resist biting a chunk out of an unwary pal’s finger at a sleepover, and her dad promptly scarpers, leaving her a cassette tape explaining her condition, which she listens to as she moves listlessly from state to state by Greyhound bus…

Maren Yeary is only 18 years old, and seeks definition via the men in her life; firstly Mark Rylance as experienced cannibal Sully, with a keen sense of smell for predators and victims, and zero moral code about pouncing on the innocent. Sully shows Maren how to hunt and kill (“Life is never dully with Sully!’) but she is haunted by the morality, or lack of any sense of it, in his actions. Escaping, Maren runs into the more acceptable face of cannibalism in the smoking hot form of Lee, played by Dune’s Timothée Chalamet. Lee introduces Maren to the joys of wigging out to Kiss at top volume, but his own moral code turns out to be as unreliable as Sully’s; just who should a girl look up to when all she wants is to be the best cannibal she can be? Maybe her mother (Chloe Sevigny) has the answers…

Guadagnino’s movies (A Bigger Splash, Call Me By Your Name) have plenty of adherents, but this looks more like a dust-bowl-chic centre-spread in a posho fashion magazine than an actual drama. The men’s fashions showcased in Bones and All offer a horror that’s far beyond eating people; Chalamet spots a set of ripped TF Bananarama jeans and a hideous two-tone Duckie Dale mullet, while Rylance favours a feathered hat combo alongside tighty-whitey vest and pants underwear. And we’ve not even cast a critical eye over Michael Stulbarg’s beige dungaree ensemble, David Gordon Green’s Dokken t-shirt or the eye-melting Mona Lisa carny-shirt that other minor characters wear; dressing movie stars down has always been a thing, but Bones and All has an idiosyncratic, hardscrabble style all of its own in place of a plot.

‘Let’s be people now,’ Maren concludes at the end of her meandering journey, and she’s probably right; there’s only so much fun to be had acting like monsters, and our happy couple settle down to suburban normality before a conventional predictable horror climax resolves things. The soundtrack, ranging all the way from Joy Division to New Order, is well chosen, the acting is superb, but somehow Bones And All doesn’t add up to much more than an alternative Twilight universe; other than the usual observation of teenage outsiders who refuse to conform to the worst of societal norms, there’s not much else for audiences to feast on…


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  1. Bones And All, the perfect family film for the Holidays! I’m all for leaning in to alternative, counter-programming movies this time of year, but more along the lines of Violent Night, which carries a Yuletide connection. I myself ate more than I should have over the weekend, but I certainly didn’t desire to film it for public consumption…or consumption of the public.

    • I guess Tim is the big draw for a Thanksgiving audience but I did make sure I ate well before watching this. It would put you off your dinner.

  2. Yes, the finale was predictable, although I thought the camerawork and framing made it feel more intimate and emotional than the scene deserved. Guardagnino does know how to make something look beautiful and expressive.

    • Yes, the look of the film was quite something, and there were some very creative choices in the edit. And at least I got done great fashion tips from the male characters…

  3. I enjoyed Bones and All – it was much better than the uneven Suspiria, and worked for me as a blend of Guadagnino’s horror and romance modes. Strong echoes of Badlands and other outlaw couple on the run movies. Taylor Russell, who was the best thing in Waves, was very good; Chalamet was okay as the sensitive rebel who lets the cracks show, but it’s Russell’s story despite the poster billing. I liked the finger-licking opening scenes; they had bite.

    • While a little slow for me, this was a big improvement for me in Suspiria, which I thought was overblown in all the wrong ways. This is a beautifully acted and well constructed piece, and that finger-licking opener had bite, as did all the violent scenes. But I’m not sure where the 130 mins went, and while enjoyable enough to gain better than pass marks, I did find sections of it languid and the finale was obviously from the start…

    • What? The star of Little Women in a YA adaptation and you’re otherwise engaged? And you call yourself a Twilight fan?

      • Twilight was during my “on” phase! I’m sure I’ll pick this one up when the YA mood strikes again. It’s feast or famine for me and YA. I want it all for awhile, then I go off it.

          • How dare you question my Twilight credentials!!!!!!

            All because I’m not running out to see some cut-rate cannibal rip off!

            And I’m refusing to take the bait re: your trolling about calling the one male character in LW the star!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • It’s just like your usual teen vampire movie, but half the pace, twice the acting, and the worst clothes you’ve ever seen. Although I imagine the wardrobe seen here would be an upgrade on what you’ve currently got…

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