Arguably, horror and romance may be more difficult to mix than horror and comedy. Classic Gothic horror has often incorporated romanticism into its stories. Based on Camille DeAngelis’ novel of the same name, Luca Guadagnino’s latest release, Bones and All, is a bit of Southern Gothic about two teen cannibals who fall in love. If the premise sounds outlandish, Guadagnino has generated all kinds of critical goodwill. In addition to its odd concept, Bones and All features a stellar cast that includes Timothee Chalamet, Taylor Russell, Chloe Sevigny, and Mark Rylance.
Abandoned and afflicted by a dark craving, Maren finds herself living alone on the margins. But when she meets Lee – another drifter with the same affliction – she finds a connection she’s always wanted. As they travel the midwest along American highways, they carve out a relationship while learning to live with their personal traumas.
Bones and All a Shockingly Beautiful Blending of Genres
Several things immediately stand out with Luca Guadagnino’s (Suspiria) Bones and All. First and foremost, Guadagnino and screenwriter David Kajganich effortlessly blend distinct genres into what’s a truly unique film. Bones and All is a horror movie, romance, and road movie all at once with bits of mystery and thriller as well. Anyone unfamiliar with the premise will be intrigued with the strange circumstances surrounding Maren before an early scene shocks and revolts. While it’s not a full horror movie, those scenes that align with the genre are disturbing and graphic. What sets this film apart is the ways in which Guadagnino contrasts the horror with stunning beauty and pathos.
…Guadagnino and screenwriter David Kajganich effortlessly blend distinct genres into what’s a truly unique film.
In addition to scenes that evoke revulsion and unease, Bones and All takes audiences on a road trip where two lost and lonely people find trust and love with one another. The romance that develops between Maren and Lee is layered and complex. Watching as the two characters take turns being vulnerable, sharing something dark that forces them into isolation, becomes surprisingly tender. That is, Bones and All carefully crafts a heartbreaking arc in complete contradiction to the basic premise – and it works. Some audiences may find the pace to be slow, but Guadagnino takes a deliberate pace that ends with something tragic and random. Another example of the shocking contrasts inherent to the thriller is the gorgeous cinematography.
Bones and All Boasts a Handful of Oscar-Worthy Performances
Though he’s still under the age of 30, Timothée Chalamet has already amassed an impressive list of acting credits. From Call Me By Your Name to Dune, Chalamet is arguably one of today’s elite young acting stars. And Chalamet completely inhabits the character of Lee, a young man who alternately struggles to hide his dark drive and past while also yearning to open up to someone. The chemistry that Chalamet’s ‘Lee’ shares with Taylor Russell’s ‘Maren’ feels so real and powerful. As beautiful as much of Guadaginino’s movie is on screen, it would be empty without these two lead performances.
The chemistry that Chalamet’s ‘Lee’ shares with Taylor Russell’s ‘Maren’ feels so real and powerful.
As for Taylor Russell (Escape Room, Escape Room: Tournament Champions), she’s a revelation in this movie. Her character should be revolting, but Russell humanizes her and manages to inspire empathy. In spite of her very limited screen time, Chloë Sevigny makes a disturbing impression, reminding us of her dramatic range. But it’s Mark Rylance’s ‘Sully’ who may linger longest with audiences. Not a traditional horror villain by any means, Rylance is subtly creepy and he methodically increases the character’s unsettling presence with his handful of subsequent scenes.
Bones and All Marks a Stunning Film-Making Achievement
Leave it to Luca Guadaginino to craft a movie almost wholly indescribable. Somehow Bones and All weaves several different emotions into a premise that could not be more off-putting on paper. Yet Bones and All manages to be disturbing and haunting while also heartbreaking and, yes, a deeply tender tale of love. Both Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell deliver immersive and stunning performances. And Mark Rylance gives us what may be the scariest movie villain in recent memory. Whether the upcoming awards season recognizes the brilliance of what’s on screen will be interesting. Nevertheless, Guadaginnino has crafted a movie that’s beautiful to watch and experience in spite of its premise.