Bones and All review: The film about cannibal lovers lacks heart

Maren and Less clench their heads in Bones and All.

“Bones and All is another achingly romantic, occasionally chilling film from director Luca Guadagnino that doesn’t quite manage to reach the same heights as some of his earlier efforts.”


  • Taylor Russell’s soulful lead performance

  • Michael Stuhlbarg and Mark Rylance’s scene-stealing supporting roles

  • Arseniy Khachaturan’s stunning cinematography


  • Too leisurely a pace

  • A climax that misses the mark

  • Consistently bumpy dialogues

bones and all is a curious, gory-stained addition to the American road movie canon. The film, shot on location in Ohio, reunites director Luca Guadagnino with his call me by your name Star Timothée Chalamet embarks on an adventure that takes his young, contradictory character across several Midwestern states. She is joined by Taylor Russell, a promising young star who is finally getting the spotlight she deserves bones and allwhich depicts her and Chalamet as a pair of nomadic cannibals struggling to find a place in a world populated by people who understandably have little interest in being eaten.

in many ways bones and all feels like an inevitable mix of the romance and horror genres that Guadagnino has toyed with in the past. Its achingly romantic story feels like the forbidden romance the Italian director explored call me by your namewhile his instances of blood-soaked violence inevitably recall the moments of body terror found in Guadagnino’s 2018 reimagining suspiracy. Despite all its technically impressive parts, however, something is missing bones and alla film that feels surprisingly tame given the content of its story.

Lee sits next to Maren in Bones and All.
Yannis Drakoulidis/Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures

Based on a 2015 novel by Camille DeAngelis, bones and all follows Maren Yearly (Russell), a young girl whose cannibalistic urges eventually force her to start her own business when she turns 18, who has adapted to the nomadic lifestyle for reasons similar to Maren’s, albeit slightly more brutal. The two quickly bond and strike up a romance based on both understanding and Maren and Lee’s shared hunger.

Despite Maren’s desire to find her mother, bones and all moves at a leisurely pace that makes its connection and guilt to the great American road movies of the past undeniably clear. Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor’s uncharacteristically acoustic, plucky score only drives home more bones and all‘s connection to movies like Paris, Texas, which draws as heavily on Ry Cooder’s folk music to create its warm, aching mood as it does on Robby Müller’s usual sparkling cinematography. In honor of the film bones and all perhaps even the most visually stunning exploration of rural America since Müller and director Wim Wenders made their fateful journey to the States in 1984.

BONES AND EVERYTHING | Meet Lee – Featurette

Guadagnino and cinematographer Arseni Khachaturan not only fill in bones and all with beautiful, sun-drenched frames, but also highlight the everydayness of rural American architecture and life. All of the film’s houses seem to creak and tremble under the weight of their shabby construction, and Guadagnino effectively juxtaposes the spooky atmosphere of bones and all‘s old homes, factories and insane asylums with the freedom that America’s Midwest plains offer.

In a film that is so often about the search for freedom and comfort, that’s no mistake bones and all keeps returning to images of his two protagonists sitting totally relaxed together in the vastness of Ohio’s seemingly endless fields.

Maren and Lee walk in opposite directions across the Midwestern plains in Bones and All.
Yannis Drakoulidis/Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures

What bones and all has in its beautiful textures and compositions, it ultimately lacks intensity. The film’s script is meandering and listless, which might not be a problem were it not for the tragically brutal direction bones and all eventually takes. Tonally and structurally, Guadagnino tries to balance the difference between an American road movie, YA romance and body horror film, but the film often presents itself and its story in such a nonchalant, unpretentious way that it ends up being emotionally flat.

Part of that is due to Chalamet feeling woefully miscast as Lee. The actor’s previous collaboration with Guadagnino has made him a performer capable of portraying loneliness and longing in a gentle way, but both he and his director are unable to convey Lee’s same warmth and compelling inner conflict to mediate. That fact, combined with Chalamet’s inability to sell consistently bones and alls occasionally clunky dialogue makes his performance feel strangely flat and monotonous.

Russell, for her part, is doing far better. As Maren, the actress brings a youthful curiosity and heartfelt warmth that both the film and its central love story desperately need.

BONES AND EVERYTHING | Meet Maren – Featurette

Wise or not, Guadagnino surrounds Russell and Chalamet with performers far taller and far meaner than they are. The film’s main supporting actor is Mark Rylance, who oscillates between a kind of pathetic neediness and terrifying obsession as a socially awkward cannibal named Sully. Michael Stuhlbarg, meanwhile, steals almost the entire film in a scene that gives him the chance to appear in just a denim jumpsuit and monologue about the joys of devouring another human while lit by the haunting amber light of a nearby campfire becomes.


It’s in Stuhlbarg’s scene that bones and all is at its most dangerous and perverse, and that’s why it lingers on so much longer than the rest of the film, which for all its flesh-torn moments of cannibalism lacks any real bite.

bones and all is in cinemas now.

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