Lucky audiences at NYFF60 had the chance to experience BONES AND ALL, one of the buzziest films to come out of the Venice Film Festival, with its eight-and-a-half-minute standing ovation. At this point, it is hard to imagine that you haven’t heard about it. It is thoroughly accurate to describe it as the following: “A coming-of-age romantic cannibal road film” Directed by Luca Guadagnino, Bones and All comes from a screenplay by David Kajganich, based on the 2015 novel of the same name by Camille DeAngelis. It centers on Maren’s father abandoning her at age eighteen, leaving behind an audio tape as her only guidance and explanation. This narration is an overarching theme during Maren’s journey. Left to fend for herself after years of life on the run with her father, she stumbles across another “eater” named Sully. When he makes her uneasy, she runs again, only to bump into Lee on the road. The two form a bond based on survival and their need to consume flesh. As they travel cross country, the menace from other eaters proves to be the most spine-chilling aspect of their relationship.
Part of this story features Maren tracking down the mother she’s never met. In what would essentially prove to be a brilliant monologue, Chloë Sevigny‘s brief screentime makes you sweat. Michael Stuhlbarg is incredibly unsettling as fellow drifter Jake. When you discover that he’s teaching a non-eater how to do what they do, it feels wrong and so very right. Stuhlbarg crushes every role. Here, it took me a few minutes to realize it was him. Jake is a dirty, overalls-wearing backwoods soul and proud of it. It’s scary good.
Mark Rylance, who I have had the privilege of seeing on Broadway in Twelfth Night (yes, I had the coveted seats onstage), is hands down the most uncomfortable aspect of Bones and All. His performance borders on caricature and yet somehow works like gangbusters. From his straggly ponytail and fedora to his flair-spangled jacket, Rylance will have you eating out of the palm of his hand, whether you want to or not. Pun intended.
Timothée Chalamet as Lee is nothing but charming. He oozes casual suave. It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows his work. Bones and All reconnects Chalamet with Luca Guadagnino. One could argue that Call Me By Your Name was Chalamet’s star vehicle at NYFFF55. Bones and All is just as bold. Chalamet brings a punk edge and a caring nature opposite Taylor Russell. As Maren, she’s measured and soft. Her approach to adults shows a curated maturity. It’s a perfect balance to Chalamet. Together, they capture the innocence of young love, even if they’re pulling the wool over people’s eyes for a meal.
Bones and All is one of the most visceral films in history. As a horror fan (one might even call me a fanatic), I have seen and heard it all. Bones and All had me squirming and gagging and utterly entranced. It gives new meaning to “a visual feast for the eyes.” It will not be a film for everyone. It is best to go into your viewing experience with little to no knowledge, but that may feel like a bait and switch to some viewers. You can find out if you have the stomach for BONES AND ALL when A24 releases it on November 18th. Bring an open mind, and leave the snacks at home.
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