There are very few directors right now as youthful as Luca Guadagnino. At fifty-one years old the man has been able to capture some of the most magical tales of innocence and curiosity in the last five years. A career that expands twenty years, Guadagnino’s last several works (Call Me By Your Name, Suspiria, We Are Who We Are) have focused on the world of outcasts trying to find community. His latest is in the same realm, BONES AND ALL is an Americana road trip movie about finding those like you. It is also a very bloody movie. A “Badlands” meets Romero’s “Martin” mashup full of Guadagnino’s patience and compassion. Adapted from Camille DeAngelis’ book, here is a film that even in its most horrifying moments never wants to repulse you, but rather have you indulge in its actions and understand its reasoning. It is a tale of lost souls finding their way to one another one bite at a time.

Maren (Taylor Russell) spends her time by herself, a quiet midwestern highschooler in the 80’s Maren is decked out in an oversized wool sweater and a major secret of her own. What Maren doesn’t do well though is keep that secret hidden. After sneaking out of her mobile home one night from her controlling father (Andre Holland), Maren finds herself spending the night with a couple of girlfriends. It is an innocent moment that verges into queer territory as Maren sucks on her friend’s finger but only to take a nice bite out if it and bone popping out. Yes Maren has an uncontrollable desire for human flesh something her father has always known forcing him to constantly move them from town to town. This bloody moment may be met with a jump and scream from the audience, but when it is followed by Maren’s misinterpretation of the situation and her father abandoning her there is a clear sign of empathy for someone that has an urge they do not fully understand. Maren soon sets off to find her birth mother and hopefully get a better grasp on why she is what she is. Russell (in this critic’s eyes) may be the best actor of her generation that has still yet to get her big moment. Russell with her doting eyes and soft voice continues to bask in her ability to remain innocent and curious even in the most peculiar circumstances. She does not miss a beat as a young woman trying to take control of a situation even if she does not understand it herself.

It isn’t long until BONES AND ALL is revealed to be a road trip movie, and like a dream or something out of a comic book series about misfit mutants, Maren finds herself stumbling into the only other cannibals around. Sure the film gives a reasoning that “eaters” can sniff out other eaters, but it is nice to see Guadagnino have some fun with the notion that for a small community there sure seems to be a lot of them. Maren meets Sully (Mark Rylance) another “eater” that is dressed more for a hipster music festival cultural appropriation getup and everything. Rylance who has spent his later career playing more posh and gentle men is in full terrifying mode here. Speaking with a porky pig whimper and squeal he tries to take Maren under his wing and for a quick “meal,” but there is a wrongdoing in his actions in a way that differs from our empathy towards Maren. It is only here where we see the monster in these “eater’s” actions.

As Maren’s journey her trip of youthfulness is soon met with love in the form of another eater Lee (Timothée Chalamet), a ripped jeans skinny wanderer who se first meets after he has feasted on a drunk that was bothering women at the local convenience store. Chalamet reuniting with Guadagnino borders the line of fantasy male character but is left more grounded due to Chalamet’s natural ability to make him familiar. This is safe territory for Chalamet, but also another great addition to a young actor’s filmography who is greatly taking the acting world back to real and profoundly human roles. Their romance grows across the American Midwest and plains reminding you of Malick and a kinder Bonnie and Clyde. These two are less chaotic in their actions and feelings for one another and find themselves falling in love all to the tune of beautiful American backdrop, seriously its impossible not to fall for some of this when there is a gorgeous Iowa skyline capturing every gentle moment these two young lovers share.

BONES AND ALL wants to be and greatly succeeds at being a new American cinematic fable. With fables comes beautiful but also dangerous moments. Maren and Lee even for being the ones committing violent acts are constantly in fear for those they may encounter. Not everyone shares their more “compassionate” rules. A scene reuniting Chalamet with his “Call Me by Your Name” dad Michael Stuhlbarg brings energy of “Deliverance” reminding the audience that there is always a greater danger within these woods. Every action taken by Maren and Lee in this film is a step towards keeping themselves safe. For all the love they share there is a constant fear of never being able to reach normalcy so even when that moment does sort of come towards the end of the film there is an understanding that it cannot last no matter how hard they try. Russell and Chalamet are two young actors that like their characters have managed to find each other and the film is all the better for it. This is clearly Russell’s film and even in his biggest moments Chalamet still shares it with his costar who helps elevate him. This dependency and love can be dangerous but in this film it creates wonders. A reminder that finding others like you does lead to finding yourself. Guadagnino youthful as ever takes his time with nearly every shot and in doing so delivers remarkable film that feels like a much needed break even when tension runs high. Throw in a twangy score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross and you have a slice of American life that is so rarely seen today. Not just a compassionate one, but one that actually cares about those around them. Our journey with Maren and Lee may be over, but here is a meal that you’ll want to consume again and again.



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