Bones and All
Three years to the day since Timothée Chalamet made his Venice debut with The King, the young actor is back, reunited with the director responsible for his rise to fame. Luca Guadagnino’s adaptation of Camille DeAngelis’s coming-of-age novel is among the most anticipated titles in the competition for the Golden Lion, and it does not disappoint!
Maren (Taylor Russell) and her father (André Holland) live in humble conditions, the reasons for which become evident as the two have to rush and pack up all of their belongings in a matter of minutes when Maren attacks a fellow student. Her urge to eat people for whom she feels an affection first presented itself when she was three years old, but so far she has managed to suppress those memories. As her father leaves her with nothing but some money and a tape narrating her gory past, the young woman is forced to face who she is and where she came from.
People who have read the book might spend the first hour scratching their heads at the gaping liberties Guadagnino takes with the source material. Not unlike in his adaptation of Dario Argento’s Suspiria, the Italian auteur borrows the bare bones of the story to make it his very own. Where DeAngelis depicts a very specific tale of a very particular girl, Guadagnino expands the world the author created, enabling both a greater understanding of what a life like hers might entail and equally allowing symbolic interpretations of more universal truths. Themes like loneliness, rejection, consent and how to love other people sneak up on the viewer and sink their teeth in, even as the dialogue may feel clumsy in one or two scenes.
Targeted at young adults, the novel depicts cannibalism as a more abstract notion, comparing its perpetrators to ogres gobbling away until nothing is left of the person. The film’s universe is much more graphic: blood, bones, cleanup – to the extent of possibly alienating some of Chalamet’s (who recently wrapped a Willy Wonka prequel) regular audience members.
His performance as Lee (a fellow drifter and also an “eater”, whom Maren meets on the road) hovers between aloof, comedic and soulful, yet is continuously in full support of Russell’s scintillating portrayal. Their interplay is the beating heart of this feature, despite the thriller and horror elements that may offer the most attention-grabbing headlines about it.
Comparisons between Bones and All and Call Me by Your Name seem inevitable, not just because of the three vital players tied to both projects (Guadagnino, Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg – whose character may come as the biggest surprise). The two films are nothing like each other and yet simultaneously – like two sides of the same coin – both cunningly display the love we find for ourselves when we are allowed to truly love another person, bones and all.
Bones and All does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Venice Film Festival 2022 coverage here.
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Watch a clip from Bones and All here: