From acclaimed director Luca Guadagnino comes his adaptation of the 2015 horror/romance novel of the same name. Though I have not read Camile DeAngelis’ book, Bones and All, and knew absolutely nothing about the story, I attended this Fantastic Fest screening simply because it was directed by Guadagnino. After having much admiration for some of his previous movies (Call Me By Your Name, Suspiria), I was so excited to see what the filmmaker had in store for his Fantastic Fest audience. I was completely blown away. Bones and All is one of those horror films that transcends it audience to an otherworldly place where violent cannibalistic teens in love are characters deserving of empathy. It truly is a bizarre experience, but is nevertheless one that moved me emotionally. Bones and All is an amazing work of art and is definitely one of my top movies of the year.
Taking place during the 1980s, Maren Yearly (Taylor Russell), a seemingly meek and harmless teenager decides to join her classmates at a sleepover. While she and her friends are initially having a good time, an insatiable urge overcomes Maren. She tries to eat one of her classmates alive. Maren Yearly clearly has a problem. She is addicted to cannibalism, and even though she has tried so many times to quit, her urges and desires for human flesh get her into trouble, forcing Maren and her father to go on the run.
This time, Maren’s father Frank (Andre Holland) quickly abandons her, as he can no longer stomach or accept the problem she has. On her own Maren eventually encounters people like her who have similar uncontrollable urges to consume people. She meets the utterly creepy Sully (Mark Rylance), a much older, but perhaps wiser, cannibal who advises Maren to give in to her desires, as it will eventually become the only thing that will keep her alive. Unable to trust the frightening man, she eventually encounters a cannibal named Lee (Timothee Chalamet), a young man close to her age with whom she falls in love.
With an adapted screenplay by David Kajganich, Luca Guadagnino turns Camile DeAngelis’ book into a cinematic masterpiece. It is not only one of my favorite movies of the year, I feel it is the best film Guadagnino has made so far. It is a gruesome, disturbing, beautiful, haunting, and heartbreaking film. It works so tremendously on all of these levels. Between the writing and direction, Bones and All make the protagonists of Maren and Lee way too likable and accessible. It’s so damn heartbreaking to see their addiction destroy what seems to be their only opportunity for love in what is essentially a violent existence.
And in bringing these characters to life, both Timothee Chalamet and Taylor Russell are both incredible in their roles as Lee and Maren. In addition, Mark Rylance is absolutely creepy and frightening as the more fierce and unapologetically vicious Sully. He definitely represents the darkest, hellish levels of this type of life.
While I realize that this type of movie will not appeal to all audiences, this is an amazing cinematic experience for fans of horror. Bones and All gained a lot of fans at this year’s Fantastic Fest and is sure to gain so much more as it reaches the masses. Horror fanatics need to sink their teeth into this one and give this movie the success and popularity it deserves.