Addiction, eye color, boob shape, serotonin deficits: we’re all encumbered by our genetic hand-me-downs. Sometimes, all they require is therapy and/or time to sort out. Sometimes, like for Maren (Taylor Russell) and Lee (Timothée Chalamet) in Bones and All, it’s a bit more complicated. Or as Maren’s pedo-vibey, would-be mentor Sully (Mark Rylance) puts it: “I ate my own granddad while we were waiting on the undertaker.” For cannibals, it’s a lot more complicated.
Despite its preponderance of blood and guts and sinew-slathering, bone-smacking gore, Bones and All isn’t exactly a movie about cannibalism. Based on the novel by Camille DeAngelis and directed by Luca Guadagnino (screenplay by David Kajganich), it’s more about trying to survive when your damage has no cure and is embedded in your very DNA. And, in the case of Maren and Lee, when your non-cannibal parent leaves you to figure it out on your lonesome because they can no longer deal with you snacking on the neighbors.
Maren’s father (André Holland) leaves Maren on her own following a sleepover gone very wrong. He leaves behind a cassette and a birth certificate. These are clues that set Maren on a picaresque adventure across the country in search of the mother she’s never known but who shared her dietary proclivities. Along the way, she learns to smell out other “eaters,” Rylance’s grotesquely paternal Sully and Chalamet’s fiercely protective Lee predominant among them.
Chalamet and Russell deftly navigate this over-the-top horror, buddy comedy, coming-of-age drama, and sweet romance. As for Rylance, he is an International Treasure for his ability to sell the relatability of anyone, even a gross old man in tighty-whities up to his chin in the innards of somebody’s dead grandma. R, 130 min.