Bones and All

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

According to the press materials. Bones and All is a tender tale of first love. Maren is a young woman learning to survive on the margins of society. Lee is a disenfranchised drifter. An unforgiving world cannot accept them. These youths drive off together on a “liberating” odyssey where they come to terms with who they are. You may ask, “Who are they?” because the official synopsis hides a salient reality. They’re cannibals! The title refers to the ultimate level: eating the entire human.

So that’s a weird concept. Remember the Fine Young Cannibals? The British band got its name from a movie starring Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood. A literal interpretation would be a perfect title for this film too. This romantic cannibal road picture is a parable about star-crossed loves who cannot resist devouring people. Based on cultural references, I’d say the year is about 1983. Maren (Taylor Russell) is a teen coping with her true nature. She wants what anyone wants, to be loved. However, Maren’s preferences have forced her into a shameful exile. She didn’t choose to be this way. After her father (André Holland) abandons Maren, she meets Lee (Timothée Chalamet), and the two go off on a journey together. Each geographic location gracelessly announced by the official state abbreviation in bold white letters across the screen.

These are morally reprehensible individuals. This duo is akin to the ones in classics like Badlands or Bonnie and Clyde. Writer David Kajganich (2018’s Suspiria) adapts this edgy drama from Camille DeAngelis’ 2015 young adult novel. The screenplay wants us to embrace their lamentable status as misunderstood loners. Oh, they have their “morals.” Maren attempts to limit her victims to ones who have already died. Lee tries to only kill souls whose deaths won’t affect others. He fails. At a slaughterhouse, Maren and Lee observe that cattle have families too—as if to plead that killing humans is the same as consuming meat. The fact that DeAngelis is vegan bears a mention.

It’s impossible to ignore that these teens do eat innocent people. The movie graphically reminds us of this. Bones and All is directed by Luca Guadagnino, who did the far superior Call Me By Your Name. This is a different kind of love story. I enjoyed the art-house aesthetic. Nuanced performances (when they’re not chowing down on humanity) are shot by Arseni Khachaturant using sentimentalized soft-focus cinematography. A hip indie cast includes Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man), André Holland (Moonlight), and Chloë Sevigny (Boys Don’t Cry)

Nevertheless, the smattering of positives wasn’t enough to overlook the overwhelming negatives. The plot is simplistic and empty, with only intense — no stomach-churning — violence at its core to distinguish it. These cannibals enthusiastically dine on dead bodies. The demise of one poor older woman who fell over and couldn’t get up still haunts me. I’m talking Grand Guignol. Feast your eyes on close-ups of mouths tearing into her flesh and pulling out chucks. Yes, body tissue will be mutilated and devoured in a bloody fashion. Some may find more to like if they can see past the blood and gore into the metaphor the screenplay is trying to push. I couldn’t get past the idea that this is simply a saga about bad people doing things I don’t want to watch.


5 Responses to “Bones and All”

  1. I knew from previews what this was about. I was hoping on a creative take on the subject, with minor gore. But no, this was a disappointment. I will say I liked Mark Rylance. He gave an eerie performance that was very creepy. I wanted more from him. 2 ⭐️

    Liked by 1 person

    • I went in completely cold. I still would have hated it even if I had been prepped. THis should’ve gone directly to streaming. If it makes more than $10 million, I’ll be shocked.


  2. Just in response to your above comment, yes I find it incredibly frustrating that Glass Onion only did a week-long lap in theaters and hits Netflix when Bones and All is hanging around for awhile.

    This movie just kind of gives me a queasy feeling, I don’t know what it is. Maybe Timothee Chalamet’s gaunt physicality, maybe the marketing campaign. Just, not for me. Thanks for saving me the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I’d steer clear. Only lovers of the book need to see this.

      I have no idea what Netflix is thinking with its release strategy. Theaters just experienced the worst Thanksgiving holiday box office since 1994. Glass Onion (and Wakanda Forever) were the only bright spots. The Knives Out sequel made $15 million in the few days it was out and that was in less than 700 theaters.

      Thanks for your comments buddy! Always appreciated.

      P.S. Did you not like Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio? I saw your “angry” reaction to my #NowWatching Facebook post.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I probably could have clarified that on your post. I was reacting to the fact Guillermo del Toro has gone ahead and made Pinocchio look like some kind of nightmare. There are two directors I really can’t stand when they touch certain properties; one is Tim Burton (what he did with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory still makes me mad) and the other is del Toro. Fine director, a unique style and he’s made popular movies but for whatever reason I really can’t embrace his Disney-for-adults approach to a childhood favorite of mine. I at least probably should do the decent thing of watching it and having a more informed opinion but this just looks really off-putting to me.

        Liked by 1 person

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