LFF 2022: Bones And All – Review

Release Date – 23rd November 2022, Cert – 18, Run-time – 2 hours 11 minutes, Director – Luca Guadagnino

With the help of fellow ‘eater’ Lee (Timothée Chalamet), Maren (Taylor Russell) tries to navigate a newly opened world to her whilst trying to fight cannibalistic impulses, all while being chased down by other eaters.

From its opening stages Bones And All tries to blend and subvert genres. Teenager Maren (Taylor Russell) sneaks out late at night to attend a sleepover with some school friends. While she needs to be back before morning so that her dad (André Holland) doesn’t find out she went the moment dwells on the peaceful evening between the girls. As they try on nail polish and show each other how it looks it feels like an almost romantic connection is being built between Maren and one particular friend things take a quick swerve as the protagonist takes swoon-like bite into her friend’s finger. As screams erupt she escapes running home to her father who, it turns out, must once again escape with her to a new town.

It’s something he’s tired of doing and therefore soon leaves a tape explaining to his daughter that she’s going to have to fend for herself and navigate the world, and her cannibalistic impulses, alone. However, it’s not long until she meets fellow ‘eater’ Lee (Timothée Chalamet), agreeing to take her in to help her take control of her want to eat, whilst they also try to outrun other eaters – especially Mark Rylance’s Sully; who promises Maren, who has a sense of smell almost as good as his for finding food, that “life’s not dully with Sully”.

It’s lines like this, a number of which are delivered by Rylance, that feel generally silly and yet don’t quite enter humorous territory. As a whole the film struggles tonally due to its blending of genres. Amongst its road trip course, where a handful of moments and interactions don’t really feel as if they lead anywhere, it feels neither restrained or outlandish enough to properly be comedic or engagingly dramatic. The ultimate result is something quite boring as the characters run into various personal circumstances which simply end up feeling disjointed.

Such moments largely revolve around Maren and the potential origins of her want to eat people. While she tries to stop herself from doing so, especially to avoid killing innocent people, her cravings increase – leading Lee to tell her “you either eat, off yourself, or lock yourself up”. Such moments begin to become dramatically interesting, however the tonal jumble throughout the film and the fact that such moments just feel, as mentioned, disjointed from the rest of the film. Add to that the levels of disengagement which have built up to this and its simply difficult to get back into the film as it once again starts to knock things that it builds up down.

Much like the tones and genres don’t always mix it simply feels as if the personal dramas and cannibalism themes never quite work together, even though often they’re the same thing – or at least should be. The film feels split and divided as to what it wants to be which creates an increasingly jumbled feeling. As the characters drive around various small towns across the US while their journey goes from point to point the narrative with its various focuses and beats jumps back and forth with little to actually grab you and bring you in. Trying to veil things under a coming-of-age feel doesn’t do enough to disguise the clashes between horror, drama, potential comedic beats, thriller and more. Things simply never feel fully tacked down leading to them getting away from the film.

It’s all a shame as there’s a lot of potential for a film with these stylings, even within the simple realms of a coming-of-age cannibal film (there’s not a great deal here in comparison to Julia Ducournau’s Raw – so thoughts of that leave the mind relatively quickly, if they’re there at all). While some moments and ideas may have promise and hints of interest they eventually add to the disjointed and disengaging feel of the film which ultimately leaves you bored with its drawn out set of events and sets of interactions between characters.

While some dialogue may come across as quite silly there’s little humour within Bones And All which feels neither restrained or outlandish enough to properly lean into drama, comedy, or any other genre it tries to tackle. In the end the various ideas, tones and genres fail to come together, leading to a boring, disjointed feel.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

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