There's something quite poetic about Luca Guadagnino combining the romance of Call Me By Your Name with the body horror of his Suspiria remake for Bones and All, a cannibalistic romance that paints quite a horrifically beautiful picture.

Love blossoms between a young woman, Maren (Taylor Russell), on the margins of society and disenfranchised drifter, Lee (Timothée Chalamet), as they embark on a 3,000-mile odyssey through the backroads of America. However, despite their best efforts, all roads lead back to their terrifying pasts and a final stand that will determine whether their love can survive their differences.
There's just something so wonderfully tender about the central romance between Maren and Lee here, meeting as a result of an act that would usually make someone run a mile for their own safety. They're outcasts, thrust together by chance yet forging an unbreakable bond that will see them take on the normality of the world, in their eyes. The film possesses a fine screenplay from David Kajganich, who manages to ensure the audience empathises with the two leads despite the atrocities they commit throughout. In a way, it reminded me a fair bit of True Romance in how two people fall in love and must conquer any obstacle they come across, just with added cannibalism.

Speaking of which, Bones and All is totally unflinching when it comes to its scenes of horror. It's twisted the first time it occurs in the film and it certainly doesn't get any easier to watch throughout, some spectacular sound design ensuring the squelching sound won't leave your mind any time soon. Guadagnino flitting between scenes of sheer horror and then romance is effortless, Arseni Khachaturan's cinematography of the vast American landscape quite gorgeous and his close-ups of them eating their victim honing in on the bond they form while feeding their needs. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross provide the film's score, and they do a grand job in making sure it doesn't feel overbearing, instead feeling sensual to the journey of Maren and Lee.
The central relationship of Bones and All really comes together thanks to the performances from Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell, who share something special on screen. It's great to see Chalamet work with Guadagnino again after the success of Call Me By Your Name, and it's no surprise he manages to get another performance from him that makes me think Chalamet can go on and become the real deal. It isn't always there but Chalamet is electric here. Taylor Russell delivers a sympathetic turn for a character who's never really known her place in society having had to move from place to place after each incident.

As good as the two of them are, akin to True Romance, I found myself drawn to some of the supporting characters more. There's Mark Rylance as you've never seen him before, even if he does give off that Mr Nice Guy persona at first. Trust me, there's an image of Rylance in this film that won't leave my memory for a while. Michael Stuhlbarg also appears and threatens to steal the whole film with a brief yet disturbing turn that gave me chills.

Bones and All is one the year's best films and was a great experience watching with a packed crowd at the London Film Festival, the gasps and wincing both heard and felt throughout. From the moment that first bite hits you won't be able to take your eyes off it.

Verdict: ★★★★★


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