Bones and All Review: Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russel Eat, Prey, Love

Jan 1, 2023

Home Movie Reviews ‘Bones & All’ Review: Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell Eat Prey, Love

It’s a Chalamet, Guadagnino, and Stuhlbarg reunion!

Image via Fremantle

This review was originally part of our Venice 2022 coverage.

Timothée Chalamet reunites with his Call Me by Your Name director, Luca Guadagnino, for a 1980s road trip love story, Bones & All. Michael Stuhlbarg even shows up for a campfire chat about “when everything changes” between two people. Even though it centers on young love again, this is a far cry from that trio’s first film together. The sprawling Italian villas have been traded in for lonely US highways, cornfields, rundown homes, and an unreliable truck. Taylor Russell is Chalamet’s counterpart and together they make two fine young cannibals. Yes, Bones and All is a cannibal love story.

Russell stars as Maren and Bones and All is her story. She is shy at school. Her father (André Holland) locks her up at night. We soon learn why. In the world of this film, based on a 2016 novel by Camille DeAngelis, being an “eater” of human flesh is a hereditary condition. It comes with a keen sense of smell which allows the eater to find others like them but for the most veteran eater, an eater can also use their sense of smell to locate homes where someone inside does not have much longer in this world.
Because Maren knows nothing of her mother, she thinks maybe this necessary hunger afflicted her, too. And she traverses all over the Great Plains and Great Lakes to find her. First, she meets Sully (Mark Rylance) an older, polite eater whose sense of smell gives him the vibes of a stalker. Despite Sully’s kismet feeling, it’s those stalker vibes (he keeps his victim’s hair to braid into a rope) that puts her back on the road where she eventually meets and falls for Lee (Chalamet).

The flesh of the story is the growing fondness and love between the two young eaters. Lee takes Maren on the road to find her mother and she learns more about his former life, too. Back in Kentucky, Lee has a younger sister (Francesca Scorsese) who begs for him to come home. The lovers’ road trip follows a world-building section that is full of tension and well-executed mood. The world-building is the bones of the story. The bones are eerie, and the flesh is twee. It’s a mix that doesn’t always work but the chemistry between Russell and Chalamet is so strong that each cameo (including Stuhlbarg’s) feels extraneous and disruptive. (Of all the cameos in Bones & All, Suspiria’s Jessica Harper fares best as Maren’s grandmother who cannot bring herself to openly talk about her daughter.)

Image Via United Artists Releasing

RELATED: ‘Bones and All’ Director Luca Guadagnino on Trusting Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell

Russell portrays Maren as guarded but warm, with a good read on others. And Chalamet has punk swagger that goes beyond his pink hair and torn jeans. Like many young punks, he’s lashing out at a self-centered world until he’s understood and forgiven. In the end, Bones and All starts to run out of gas because—while people are killed and eaten— the film never becomes a lovers-on-the-lam movie so the tension, which was so pronounced at the start, dissipates. The love story is pleasant and will surely be memed with care and admiration (so too will a cornfield rendezvous where Chalamet takes his fresh prey). But it weirdly removes a sense of urgency that they could get caught.

The two sides of the story also carry different looks. The opening is full of shadows and darkness, punctuated gorgeously by streetlights and bedroom lights—the places where Maren is escaping and plunging into the unknown. Once it becomes a love story, the look of Bones and All becomes more hopeful with blue skies and open roads. There is a message about needing to accept yourself in order to love someone else, which is tried and true. But, even though there is bloodshed on the screen and gnashing teeth in the sound design, the light overtakes the darkness too much. Perhaps this is due to almost every character we meet being an eater and so the societal structure that they’ve all run away from doesn’t ever make a threatful appearance. Vampire movies, which often incorporate a love story, are usually driven by the threat of discovery. The absence of that in Bones and All, despite leaving evidence all over the Great Plains, makes it a beautiful-looking movie that becomes too devoted to repeating the same note. There is no “all,” just bones.

Rating: B-

Bones and All is in theaters now.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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