By ABBIE BERNSTEIN / Staff Writer
Posted: Nov 23, 2022 / 3:46 am
Stars: Taylor Russell, Timothée Chalamet, Mark Rylance, André Holland, Michael Stuhlbarg, David Gordon Green, Jessica Harper, Jake Horowitz, Anna Cobb, Chloë Sevigny
Writer: David Kajganich, based on the novel by Camille DeAngelis
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Release date: November 18, 2022 (Los Angeles and New York); November 23, 2022 (wide)
The year is 1988. Maren Yearly (Taylor Russell) is an eighteen-year-old with an unusual compulsion: she is occasionally driven to eat human flesh. Her father (André Holland), who doesn’t share this trait, finally can’t take it. We get the impression it’s less the running and hiding and secrecy that wears him down and more the moral dilemma of whether to do what’s best for his child or what’s best for everyone else.
So Maren’s father leaves her alone with her birth certificate, some cash and a cassette explaining the few facts he knows about Maren’s history and nature, much of which she knew but had erased from her memory.
In search of more answers, Maren embarks on a journey in hopes of finding her mother. Along the way, she meets Sully (Mark Rylance), an older man who shares her compulsion. Sully explains to Maren that people like her, whom he calls “eaters,” can smell each other. With practice, they can smell other things too. Sully is helpful, but not only is he eccentric, he’s nerve wracking. Maren decides she doesn’t trust Sully and sets off again.
Then Maren and another one of her kind, Lee (Timothée Chalamet), sniff each other out at a diner. Not much older than Maren, Lee is attractive and relatively friendly. He is willing to help Maren in her quest; In addition, Lee is the first person Maren has ever met who she feels comfortable with when she is honest about herself. They set out together, and their relationship and adventures form the backbone of BONES AND EVERYTHING.
BONES AND EVERYTHING Directed by Luca Guadagnino from a screenplay by David Kajganich and based on the 2015 novel by Camille DeAngelis. The story has an intriguing and fresh approach to the subject. There’s obviously a built-in conflict, but the real tension here is less between the characters than between the filmmakers’ intent and the material.
Precisely because the mythology in BONES AND EVERYTHING is comparatively new, we want to know more about it. A synopsis of the novel by DeAngelis shows that 1) the title comes from the eaters’ magical method of consuming their victims without leaving any forensic evidence, and 2) different “eaters” are attracted to their victims in different ways, but that Maren is forced to consume anyone she comes too close to emotionally.
The film rejects the notion that all “eaters” eat bones and everything. Instead, we are told that when this happens it is a transformative experience, but we never figure out how it works. We also wonder why there isn’t an FBI task force looking for someone leaving human remains with bite marks everywhere; this is 1988, not the Middle Ages.
The idea of Maren devouring anyone who might become a soulmate is a powerful metaphor. We don’t need it, but an explanation of what triggers her and Lee, and what allows them to be harmless, seems in order.
However, Guadagnino and Kajganich don’t seem to care too much. It seems just a setting for a decent, but not exceptional, story of a young rebellious love on the run. It is absolutely the filmmakers’ right to tell this story, except to overlay it on a much more interesting one that they brought to the fore.
Russell is as personable and dynamic a lead as possible, and Chalamet offers credible support. Rylance finds pathos in Sully’s creepiness, and Michael Stuhlbarg and David Gordon Green (directors of the Current HALLOWEEN trilogy) contribute to the alarm factor as fellow passengers.
BONES AND EVERYTHING is pretty to look at, well done and entertaining. It could have just been more than the romantic road movie (with blood splatters) it finally feels like.
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Article: Film Review: BONES AND EVERYTHING