In Bones and All, 18-year-old Maren Yearly flees from a sleepover after she bites her friend’s finger, and strips the flesh back to the bone. In a mad panic about what she has done, Maren returns home in the middle of the night, where she is met by her father who instantly knows what has happened.
Telling her to pack up her possessions, Maren’s father takes her out of town and out of state, from her home in Virginia to an abandoned house in Maryland. He then leaves his daughter there with nothing but her birth certificate, along with a small amount of money, and a tape recorder.
Upon waking up the next morning, Maren discovers that her father has gone and after listening to a cassette recording, which is housed in the tape recorder, she learns why. Maren has cannibalistic tendencies – something she has had since birth – and after years of covering up various killings, which Maren has no recollection of, her father is no longer prepared to look out for her.
With no one left in her life, and now very unsure of who or what she is, Maren hits the road in search of her estranged birth mother. Maren believes her mother might be able to provide answers about her newly discovered hunger, and is keen to connect with this absent family member.
As she sets out on her journey, Maren meets various strangers who share her taste for human flesh, and one of these strangers is Lee – a twenty-something-year-old man who she begins to fall in love with. They then take to the open road, as a romance begins to blossom, and Maren starts to piece her life back together.
Directed by Luca Guadagnino, and set in the 1980s, Bones and All is a romantic, coming-of-age, horror-road-movie, starring Timothée Chalamet, Taylor Russell, and Mark Rylance. The film is based on a novel by Camille DeAngelis, and is new to UK and US cinemas this week.
Now if you’re wondering how anyone can make a romantic, coming-of-age, horror-road-movie, then I recommend you go take a look at Bones and All. Not only does director Luca Guadagnino manage to throw all of these different genres together, he does it in a very interesting and very effective way.
Touching, atmospheric, mesmerising, engrossing, and various other words I could pull out of the dictionary, Bones and All is one heck of a good movie. This is a remarkable picture, which grabs your attention from the start, and takes you on a long and captivating journey.
Along the way Bones and All offers touching moments of love, plenty of heartfelt emotion, and a fair bit of blood. Some of the film is quite tender, other parts are brutal, but it balances all of its material just right, and never loses its focus.
Leading the picture are Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet – two young actors who are perfect for this film. Russell brings a sense of innocence, wonder, and beauty to her role as Maren; while Chalamet brings mystery, danger, and of course, good looks, to the part of Lee.
When the actors and their characters come together on screen, it is a clear and obvious union. The film doesn’t have to work hard to sell their connection or their romance, as they instantly feel like a cosmically aligned couple.
Backing them up is Mark Rylance, who gets a wonderfully creepy role, playing the mysterious ‘Sully’ – a drifter who comes to befriend Maren and plays an important part in the couple’s life. Rylance doesn’t get a great deal of screen time, but he makes every scene count, and his role is certainly a memorable one.
Outside of the cast, the film serves up some excellent cinematography, a fine script, and a great score. There is a dream-like quality to the movie, and it comes from all of the above, resulting in an excellent piece of cinema, which is far more than a cannibalistic Bonnie and Clyde.
And to be clear, if you’ve watched a trailer for Bones and All, and you have come away believing this movie is a road picture in which a young couple travel up and down the US doing very bad things, consequence-free, that’s not what this movie is. Yes, there are elements of this in the film, but Bones and All is really a story about two young people trying to understand themselves and the world around them.
There is violence, there is blood, but these aren’t characters who revel in their actions. These are complex people, with complex emotions, trying to figure things out in a world they don’t yet understand.
At times, this movie is very reminiscent of Kathryn Bigelow’s excellent vampire movie, Near Dark (1987), and if you are a fan of that film, then I urge you to check out Bones and All. I would pair these two up as part of a double-bill, because stylistically and thematically they share similarities, and are both are superb films.
But if you haven’t watched Near Dark before, then simply concentrate on Bones and All for now, because this is a truly great picture. This is an intelligent, beautifully shot movie, which is packed full of heart and emotion, and it is guaranteed to get in your head and stay with you long after the credits have rolled.