Luca Guadagnino’s 2022 film “Bones and All” forges itself a new genre: cannibal romance road trip odyssey.
With heavily romantic cinematography, intimate direction and disgustingly real body horror, “Bones and All” is a stomach-churning visual narrative you cannot tear yourself away from. All at once, it manages to be about love, identity and belonging. Oh, and also cannibals.
A word to the wise: do not attempt to eat snacks during this movie. The body horror is grotesque and intense, and in case this needs to be said, this movie is graphic.
Unlike a lot of other movies set in the late 1980s, “Bones and All” is uninterested in flashy neon, big hair or major pop culture references. Instead, it focuses on rural grit and grime, with a muted color palette and dim lighting.
The two main characters, Maren (Taylor Russell) and Lee (Timothée Chalamet), are wanderers lacking any form of stability except for each other. The majority of the movie follows the pair on the road, driving in a stolen car, crossing through state lines on a mission to find Maren’s mother, encountering other cannibals on the road and, of course, eating.
“Bones and All” depicts consumption as a highly intimate act – as one that is not chosen, but is an intense compulsion so strong that it can be smelled by other cannibals nearby.
The movie’s tragic conclusion is simultaneously devastating and romantic. By the end of the movie, viewers have become attached to the very raw, very real love between Maren and Lee. They have discovered themselves with each other and their stories have finally reached a peaceful conclusion just as the third act launches into high gear.
The greatest weakness of “Bones and All” is its two-hour and 10-minute runtime. Many of its scenes go on for just a bit too long, and toward the middle, it loses momentum.
It is a screen adaptation of a 2015 novel written by Camille DeAngelis. The film differs significantly from the source material, changing the story to be less fantastical and more grounded in reality, as well as making the love between Maren and Lee much more tender.
Within the context of “Bones and All,” being a cannibal is an unshakeable core identity that must be permanently repressed. Despite the two main characters being a heterosexual couple, their identities and repression are very queer-coded. Much of their identity is isolation and fear of being discovered, so when Maren and Lee finally find each other, they form an intimate and believable relationship almost immediately.
Identity and belonging are at the heart of this movie, and these ideas transform it into a disgustingly delicious watching experience.
Detroit Kallunki is a senior reporter with the Daily Lobo. They can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @DailyLobo
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Detroit Kallunki is a senior reporter with the Daily Lobo.