Best of Culture 2022: Day 20

Day 20 of our Cultural Advent Calendar, in which we count down our highlights of 2022 day by day until Christmas and beyond. Our look at our favorite movies from this year continues with bones and all.

Considering that two of my favorite films of the last decade are The fall (Raw), the story of Julia Ducournau’s perfect metamorphosis that employed cannibalism to comment on non-conformity to societal norms, and 2018 by Luca Guadagnino Suspiria redo, I was already predisposed to love bones and all.

Directed by Guadagnino – who won Best Director this year Venice Film Festival for his efforts – and set in 1980s America, bones and all is based on the award-winning novel by Camille DeAngelis. It sees teenage Maren (Taylor Russell) abandoned by her father (André Holland) after her cannibalistic urges cause them to move house one too many times. He leaves her some money, his birth certificate and a tape in which he recounts his struggle to protect his daughter from the cannibalistic instincts she began to manifest since she was a child. Maren goes in search of her mother, who came out when she was a baby, and encounters several fellow “eaters” on her road trip through America’s back roads, including seemingly caring Lee (Timothée Chalamet) and Sully way scarier (Mark Rylance).

What follows isn’t the horror movie you might imagine, but rather a heady, tender character study that is, in my opinion, one of the most romantic films of 2022. It mixes a passing narrative with adulthood with a chimerical desire and a poetic meditation on belonging, which proves (to paraphrase one of the characters) that the world of love wants monsters.

Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet in Bones And All – Frenesy Cinema Company

While cannibalism as outward allegory and the exploration of budding sexuality through the prism of horror are not new ground, what defines bones and all other than that can make your stomach turn sometimes, but it will definitely make your heart ache.

Guadagnino shrewdly chooses never to let his camera linger on gratuitous scenes from the Grand Guignol gore (see: final act of Suspiria) and instead allows for beautifully shot close-ups and the evocative sound design does the majority of the heavy lifting. It doesn’t shy away from the visceral facet of what it means to feed and be enslaved to a ravenous urge, but uses the story of that Bonnie and Clyde whose survival depends on cannibalistic frenzy to delve into intimacy and what it means to belong. There’s also some tantalizing reading to be had on how Maren and Lee are symbolic stand-ins, whether for the outcasts of Reaganism, drug addiction, or the queer community.

Frenesy Film Company

Taylor Russell in Bones And All – Frenesy Cinema Company

The movie as a whole isn’t as nuanced a parable of acceptance through unconditional love as The fall (Raw) was (especially when it comes to themes of intergenerational trauma and the literal and symbolic scars that parents leave on their offspring), and the final act feels a bit more formulaic than what precedes it. However, the Malickian shots that capture the dark yet beautiful landscapes of the American countryside – courtesy of cinematographer Arseni Khachaturan – as well as the minimalist elegy of the Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross score more than make up for it. When it comes to acting, everyone brings their A game, with great showcases from Chalamet, Rylance and Michael Stuhlbarg – who has a much more disgusting reunion with Guadagnino and Chalamet after that. heartbreakingly beautiful monologue in call me by your name. And boy, can this man deliver a monologue… Although this time you wince rather than flush your tear ducts.

And then there’s Taylor Russell, who is pitch perfect and brilliantly conveys her character’s boldness and sensibility throughout, allowing the shimmers of shame to wrestle with a sense of liberating release to enlighten even the smallest of her looks.

The way she injects such humanity into Maren ensures that the film’s balance of romance and menace works beautifully. Through his portrait, we feel the intimacy of a young love and understand that bones and all It’s not about cannibalism or survival on the fringes: it’s about what we imperfect and vulnerable human beings, no matter who and what we are, are willing to do to love and be loved unconditionally. Bones and all.

bones and all (2022, D: Luca Guadagnino) with Taylor Russell, Timothée Chalamet, Mark Rylance, Michael Stuhlbarg.

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