Bones and All Is a Tender Cannibal Romance

Cannibals are the quintessential queens of drama. You forget the vegans, the lactose intolerant, those who remain vigilant against gluten: no one has to worry more than a cannibal about where their next meal is coming from. Beyond that, cannibal love poses further problems. How do you approach the topic of this eating propensity with someone you are attracted to? Or is it better to associate only with your kind, to break bread – or otherwise – only with those who are totally in tune with your needs and urges?

by Luca Guadagnino Bones and all, acting at the 79th Venice Film Festival, he begs sympathy for those who crave human flesh: in the universe of the film, they are tragic figures, a bit like vampires but not so sexy, people who have not asked to be born with such a wickedness but who must learn to live with it anyway. (The film was adapted from Camille DeAngelis’ 2016 novel of the same name.) Guadagnino’s film is artful and tender, though at times almost too tense and brutal to bear. Watching it, waiting to see where it would end, and finding myself at the mercy of one particular performance, I wondered if this film could haunt me forever. But after it finished, I found that I could easily shake his spell. Bones and all it’s meticulously romantic. It is so carefully crafted and so beautiful to look at, even at its most macabre aspect, that it ends up looking a little remote, rather than a film that brings you closer. However, its actors give you something to watch every minute. And Guadagnino, whose last film was the gray 2018 Suspiria remake, at least it maintains this extended metaphor of loneliness and buzzing alienation. Anything else you can say about it, Bones and all it is never boring.

And the film’s first third or so is downright creepy: we meet lonely teenager Maren Yearly (Taylor Russell, the sensational young actor who anchored Trey Edward Shults’ underrated family drama of 2019. Waves), who lives somewhere in 1980s Virginia with her father (played, with deep sadness, by André Holland). She is a loner, but not by choice. A friendly classmate invites her to a sleepover and although her father, for reasons that will become clear later, locks her up in her room at night, she sneaks out and heads for the girl’s house. . As she and her new friend lie curled up side by side on the floor, Maren brings the girl’s finger in his mouth up to her knuckles, in a moment that at first looks like timid sexual exploration. She then she bites him, hard, devouring him almost before realizing what she has done.

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Russell and Chalamet find refuge in each other

Yannis Drakoulidis — Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures— © 2022 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All rights reserved.

It’s a horrible moment and it makes the film vibrate like a restless bug. When Maren’s father finds out what happened, he pushes her daughter into the family car, taking her to another state. This is the pace they have settled into over the years, whenever Maren’s uncontrollable impulses get the better of her. But one day, Maren wakes up to find that her father is missing. He left her a tape, describing the significant events in her life – describing those moments when he was forced to come to terms with her true nature – and explaining that he can no longer protect her, that she will have to find her. way of her. Listening to Holland’s voice on this tape, resigned to abandoning the person she loves more than anyone else, means entering directly into the melancholy heart of this part of the film.

Maren’s father also left a wad of cash and her birth certificate, the latter of which gives her clues as to the whereabouts of the mother she never met. Was her mother like her? You need to know. And so she embarks on a Mid-American odyssey, during which she discovers that there are others like her. The first travel companion she meets is Sully, played by an almost too creepy Mark Rylance, a wobbly gentleman who refers to himself in the third person and speaks in a sinister, calming Jimmy Stewart drawl accent. Sully teaches Maren a thing or two, like how to find meals without actually killing people, or at least not directly. The two share a raw, bloody lip-smacking dinner: for easier cleanup, Sully stripped down to his skivvies. (Bones and all it’s an almost 100% humorless movie, and I think I was the only person to laugh when Sully wiped his bloody hands, as an old man, on his sagging white underpants.) But most of all, Sully teaches Maren how to recognize others like them. And that’s how he meets the lanky loner who will become his spiritual twin, the reckless Lee (Timothée Chalamet), another lone wolf cannibal who has been snatched away from his family and who makes his way into the world as best he can, feeding on people. worst he can find as a way to allay his own guilt and self-loathing.

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Chalamet is pretty much everyone’s treasure these days, and inside Bones and all, he doesn’t disappoint. His slovenliness about him is elf, and he watches the world with keen, heavy-lidded eyes. His clothes, often stolen from his victims, include pajamas and jeans ripped practically from thigh to ankle – they’re almost like invisible pants, revealing his undernourished bones beneath him.

Lee and Maren are a perfect match. They learn from each other and share their bloody secrets with each other, often accompanied by austere, meticulously plucked guitar notes that punctuate the film’s soundscape like invisible dandelion seeds. (The tasteful music is by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.) But even though this romance is supposed to be the heartbeat of the film, something pops out of the picture when Chalamet shows up, as languidly charming as he is. Because even though he’s the biggest star, Russell owns the film. Maren wears her hair with a fringe reminiscent of a childish innocence that she has never had the luxury of enjoying. Her face is completely open to a world that wants nothing to do with her. When I said I found it Bones and all surprisingly easy to shake off, I wasn’t entirely honest with myself: the desolation of Maren’s face in the film’s early scenes – an expression of loneliness and self-repulsion, overshadowed by an even stronger will to live – is what i will do remember when i look back Bones and all. A doomed love story is one thing: we always see them. But a doomed love for oneself is the greatest tragedy, and in this film, that’s the music and language of Russell’s face.

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