ReelBob: ‘Bones and All’ ★★★
A romance-road-trip movie about two young people whose compulsions place them as outsiders in society.
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“Bones and All” is a road-trip love story about two young people who share a unique obsession that keeps them on the margins of society.
That these two people — wonderfully brought to life by Taylor Russell (outstanding as the young sister in 2019’s “Waves”) and the always dependable Timothée Chalamet — also are into cannibalism makes director Luca Guadagnino’s film more appetizing (sorry, could not resist).
Guadagnino, who directed the tender “Call Me By Your Name,” offers another romance between people society would consider not just outsiders but repellant.
While “Bones and All” offers a few graphic sequences, the cannibalism is not the movie’s main focus. Guadagnino is more interested in the growing relationship between Russell’s Maren and Chalamet’s Lee, their interactions with each other, others who share their fixation and their interactions with “normal” people.
Russell’s performance is haunting, as a self-aware 18-year-old trying to understand and come to terms with who she is and why. She is a sensitive, curious young woman starved more for affection and acceptance than flesh.
The movie is set in the 1980s, a time before cellphones and social media, so people such as Maren and Lee could live under the radar. “Bones and All” is a road movie, more tender than terrifying, as the couple go on a journey to find Maren’s mother and, perhaps, learn why the teen has the cravings that drive her.
Before Maren meets Lee, she learns that others are like her. She meets a mysterious man, Sully (Mark Rylance), who reassures her that many people like them exist. He takes her to what he calls his home and feeds her.
Sully, with his drawl and a feather in his hat, is a disturbing, almost unearthly creature; an aura of menace hangs over him as he teaches Maren the ways of an Eater.
After fleeing from Sully, Maren meets Lee in an Indiana grocery store. He is a wanderer and a loner with a confident charisma. An attraction develops between these two young outsiders. It is a sweet relationship, but you sense an air of tragedy looming just out of their reach.
On their journey to find Maren’s mother, the couple encounter two individuals — played by Michael Stuhlbarg and David Gordon Green — whose short performances are ghoulish and memorable.
Andre Holland as Maren’s helpless father also makes an impression.
At 130 minutes, “Bones and All” meanders somewhat. It is dark and disturbing, but never morbid. It’s also soulful and mournful with a sweetness that you can almost taste. This is a work of beauty and brutality held together by performances that will stay with you for a long time.
I am a founding member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. I review movies, 4K UHD, Blu-rays and DVDs for ReelBob (ReelBob.com), The Film Yap and other print and online publications. I can be reached by email at email@example.com. You also can follow me on Twitter @ReelBobBloom and on Facebook at ReelBob.com or the Indiana Film Journalists Association. My movie reviews also can be found at Rotten Tomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.
BONES AND ALL
3 stars out of 4
(R), strong and bloody violent content, nudity, language, sexual content