A romantic relationship blossoms between two cannibalistic young lovers as they travel through America in Luca Guadagnino’s Bones and All. The film’s portrayal of blood and gore turns a romance story about two outcasts into a cult-esque slaughter film.
Guadagnino is known for his romantic coming-of-age films such as Call Me By Your Name, which focuses on human connection and forbidden love. While Bones and All addresses mundane conflicts that occur between couples and the hardships of human connection, it also tests the waters of addressing taboo topics—like cannibalism—in film.
The movie centers around young Maren (Taylor Russell) and social drifter Lee (Timothee Chalamet) as they embark on an 3,000-mile adventure across the United States to escape their past and a society that they do not fit into. The journey tests Maren and Lee’s love for each other as they discover each other’s differences.
It is difficult to concentrate on the main plot of Maren’s life story as the film includes scenes portraying guts and organs. Unexpected jump scares, vivid depictions of organs spilling out of bodies, and visuals of characters chewing off fingers seem unnecessary when the true message of the film revolves around Maren’s internal struggles.
At the beginning of the film, viewers see the central conflict of Maren wanting to fit in but being overcome by temptations to eat other human beings. In one scene, during an innocent sleepover with her high school friends, Maren becomes intoxicated by their smell.
She becomes unable to resist the smell and as her friend puts her hand towards Maren’s face. As her friend shows off her newly painted nails, Maren bites her finger. The scene creates an unsettling start to the film and a clear divide between Maren and her peers.
After Maren’s father abandoned her, she was left alone to survive in a world where she does not belong because of her cannibalistic temptations. Maren ventures through different stages of life, meeting more cannibals and half-cannibals. Throughout this journey, an ethical question arises: How human is a cannibal?
In one scene, Maren tells Lee that she doesn’t want to hurt anyone.
“Famous last words,” he replies.
Maren is an inherently carnal being, but she has a pure and virtuous mind. She epitomizes the idea of being a victim to one’s own identity. She has innate cravings to eat people, but in order to do that, she would have to kill them.
As Lee and Maren embark on a road trip across the United States, the film’s cinematography displays beautiful scenes of different landscapes the characters encounter on their drives. One scene that is especially visually captivating is when Lee and Maren sit in a luscious green field with their bodies tangled together to soothe themselves from the turmoil they face in society. In this intimate moment between Lee and Maren, Guadagnino’s eye for beautiful scenery is reflected.
Through dealing with a taboo topic and the disturbing concept of interacting with predatory figures within society, Bones and All may leave audience members feeling unsettled as they leave the theater.