Bones and All (2022) Movie Review

Director: Luca Guadagnino
Writers: David Kajganich (screenplay by), Camille DeAngelis (based on the novel by)
Stars: Timothée Chalamet, Taylor Russell, Mark Rylance

The most horrific movie of the year is also one of the most romantic. Bones and All is a travel tale about star-crossed lovers careening through their unfortunate displacement in life to find each other. It’s also a movie about cannibals.

There’s a certain pulpy edge to this concept that harkens back to B-Movie horror of the 80s, but Bones and All wisely chooses to deafen that lens and instead focus on the intimate relationship at its center. It takes its love story as seriously as the protagonists, and it uses its conceptual horror as a backdrop to emphasize the stakes, both allegorical and literal, in a poetic picture of gore and mess. Love is a carnal act in Bones and All. It’s just as impassioned and caustic as the violence that frames the film.

The film feels like the perfect blend of Guadagnino’s Suspiria and Call Me By Your Name as it careens effortlessly through a mastery of genre fiction to build a parallel with heartfelt romance in a tragically earnest coming-of-age story. There’s an emotional vulnerability required here that can be a daunting task for performers unable to embrace the extremes of themselves. In Bones and All, the secret is inherently laid bare. To love means to feed your lover. To know someone means to know all of them.

To this end, Taylor Russell and Timothee Chalamet create a passionate plea for an entire generation. They embrace the bearing of one another’s souls and entwine themselves in the hearts of the audience. Without performances like this at the center of this story, the building blocks would fall shamefully apart.

While I find myself having strong aversions to the scripted character, Mark Rylance performs Sully to a poignant effect and crafts a dark counterpoint to the duo at the film’s center. It’s easy for Bones and All to get distracted by its need for eventfulness. The film crafts an epilogue that feels wildly unnecessary and hammers its allegorical messaging too bluntly so as to be distractingly obvious. But the pronounced technical work from both the performers and Guadagino’s stellar framing makes even the lesser moments feel palpable.

The violence, while not nearly as graphic as something one could see in any modern action movie or horror film, manages to pierce a visceral feeling. The delicate nature of the content presents a moral quandary within the audience. As a result, the horror and gore take on a far more lively presence.

For that reason, I cannot in good conscience say that Bones and All is for the faint of heart. However, if you’re willing to embrace the antiheroic nature as the allegorical baring of souls that it is, you will be handily rewarded with one of the finest love stories of the year. 9/10 

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