“Bones and All” is an artistic, romantic, creepy horror movie… no, not about vampires, but about cannibals who can’t help it – their instincts are calling them to eat people. But this is not a simple horror movie designed to scare, because the moviemakers pose philosophical questions: can human and monster natures coexist? Can love conquer all? What does loneliness do to us? The film was first screened at the Venice International Film Festival on 2 September 2022, followed by many more. It won the Silver Lion for Best Director, directed by Luca Guadagnino, and critics praised the acting of the lead actors, the cinematographic execution, and the genre pastiche.
Italian director Luca Guadagnino is known for films such as A Bigger Splash (2015), Call Me By Your Name (2017), and his most famous horror film Suspiria (2018). As Guadagnino himself says, he is a voyeur who likes to observe, never being the center of attention, but rather looking at events from the side, never trying to control his work, but letting the creative moment take him where it wants to go. One of his favorite genres is horror because that’s when emotions are most powerful. And the cinematic bond that he has forged with actors continues throughout his career. Timothy Chalamet’s collaboration with Guadagnino in the movie is not the first time he has worked with Guadagnino, as he also starred in Call Me by Your Name.
If you go to see the film without having done any research about it, it would be really hard to know whether it is a romance, a horror, or a road movie, but it is really all in one. The story begins with Maren Erli (Taylor Russell), who lives with her father on the run because she is a cannibal and cannot control herself. This is perfectly illustrated in a scene where she is visiting a friend and she bites off her finger because she can smell her scent when she’s so close to her, and well, she’s just hungry.
That doesn’t mean that Maren wants to behave that way. She is tortured by conflicting feelings, because she condemns her behavior and dreams of being like everyone else, of living simply, of not eating people. Her father wants to believe this, but he is not convinced and leaves her alone to search through her nature for answers when her daughter turns 18.
With the money given by her father, Maren goes in search of her mother. Having never told his daughter about her past before, he makes a tape recording of the whole story and leaves Maren her birth certificate. This is the only thread that can lead her to her mother. Money is hard to come by and there is no internet at the time, so she has to use maps and ask the locals for directions, but Maren doesn’t know what else to do, and doesn’t know how to live.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a film if the universe didn’t help or… harm Maren. Something has to happen. So, the girl who thought she was alone on Earth meets other Eaters: first, the strange loner Saliman, or Sally as he calls himself (Mark Rylance), and then a young outcast named Li (Timothee Chalamet), whom she soon falls in love with and who helps her look for her mother. Li’s life has not been easy either, and the young people share a common bond between their plight and, strange as it may sound in the context of cannibals, their morals.
Because, it turns out, cannibals can be good or bad. Some are happy to get a juicy morsel of human flesh, while others have certain moral principles – like only killing bad people. But they always want to eat, and every time the two Eaters meet, there is fear and suspicion of whether they will eat each other.
This is a very interesting aspect of a character like the cannibal. He is a beast and yet he is human. And man has the freedom to choose. Does the cannibal have the freedom to choose? This is a favorite theme in art – the struggle between the reflection of God in man and his animal instincts. In the film, some cannibals lose their human nature when they stop fighting their animal nature, while Maren and Li are still trying to be humans. “Maybe love will set you free”, says Jake Li (Michael Stulhbarg), the creepy eater who met in the forest.
Music trailer for the movie:
Love did not free Sally and Jake. There is something creepy and sick in their expressions, and they seem to be mad. Killing is not compatible with love or with common sense. In the end, the soul is darkened, rusted, and covered in a crust of mud. Later on, such creatures still crave love, still look for it, look for simple friendship and warmth, but they no longer know what it is, their system no longer knows how to accept it. Loneliness makes us strange, and killing eats away at the human being and leaves a beast that no longer feels. “The older you get, the hungrier you get”, says Sally Maren.
Maren and Li are not like that yet. They can cry, regret, yearn, be happy, and finally, love. They love each other, they love their family, they want to be good, they want to behave morally. But this is not a superhero story, it is not a story about the ultimate good that always prevails. It is a story where there are only losers because sometimes nature is a prison from which you cannot escape.
On the artistic side of things, it is no coincidence that the film won the Venice Film Festival’s award for Best Director. Luca Guadagnino seems to have used impressionism to fulfill the artistic idea of the film, as the first shots show impressionistic paintings that set the tone for the rest of the film. The director uses music, framing, and landscapes, like a painter, to paint the mood of the film with soft impressionistic strokes. Because in Impressionism, it is the impression that is the most important thing that a work of art evokes, the most important thing is the feeling. Through this contrast – of soft colors, such as the treeless roads, the meadows, the sun reflected on young faces, and dark colors, such as the fresh blood of the abra, the swarms of flies flying around the carrion – the director fulfills the artistic conception of the film.
The second trailer for the movie:
The soundtrack is worthy of special mention as it was composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Rosas, especially for the film. Guadangnino said he wanted a melancholic soundtrack that would express eternal longing and reflect the landscape. The soundtrack features titles such as “(You Made It Feel) Like Home”, “You Don’t Have to Be Alone” and “We Should Feel Something”. Both the music itself and the song titles, as the director wanted, express an insatiable longing for human warmth and freedom. Eaters are always on the move, homeless, imprisoned by their nature, but freed by the unrestricted freedom of movement, eternally homeless. Does the monster have a heart? Maybe he had it in his youth but stabbed it himself? Stabbed by others? This film is a lot about cannibal hearts. In the end, it is a love story, as horrible as life itself.