SMART MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Bones and All’ brings beauty, ugliness in equal measure

Published 8:00 am Friday, December 16, 2022

By Ian Omar Smart | Guest Columnist

Now playing at the B&B Theater at the Vicksburg Mall, Luca Guadagnino’s horror romance explores the forgotten areas of America’s heartland while being anchored by two extraordinary central performances from Taylor Russell and Timothee Chalamet as a pair of cannibals who fall in love.

“Bones and All” begins with Maren (played by Russell) attending her local high school and doing her best to make friends.  When invited to an all-girl sleepover, Maren sneaks out and ends up revealing her monstrous ways. Her father (played by the great Andre Holland) helps Maren escape, but he abandons Maren due to her insatiable urges. However, he leaves her with a tape telling her all about her upbringing.

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What follows is a series of adventures that put her in the path of Sully (disturbingly played by Mark Rylance) another monster seeking companionship, Lee (Chalamet), her lover, and a series of exceedingly dangerous encounters.

Russell exudes purity and youthful optimism while Chalamet channels Nicholas Cage with a performance that’s equal parts charismatic and aggressive. Rylance lingers around the periphery of the entire story like a demon waiting to invade.

We want Maren and Lee’s love to flourish despite the horrible things we see them do. Guadagnino keeps the audience on the side of these aimless young people and frames their choices against a backdrop of desperation.

Their dedication to each other includes doing horrible things to protect one another. Little by little, the film reveals who these two were before they met, and as they open up their intimacy intensifies. This film is less about the story and more about the mood and world Lee and Maren create for themselves.

Even this film’s beautiful images exist in stark contrast to the violence on screen. And as the film progresses, they seek to eliminate the darkness surrounding them and create a safe space where they can live without fear.

But like all things in this story, beauty and warmth cannot exist without danger creeping back in. 

While I don’t think this film is for everyone (and it can be quite gory and violent), I’d recommend you take a leap if this seems like your type of film. Personally, I loved it and found the romance really moving.

The film’s beauty and ugliness exist in equal measure. Having both of them side by side amplifies the film’s themes of balance and makes Bones and All a singular cinematic experience. 

Ian Omar Smart is a graduate of Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University with a degree in architecture. When he’s not drawing buildings, he’s probably at the movies. Smart can be contacted at isiansmart@gmail.com.