Bones & All is fundamentally a beautifully realized and devastating, tragic romance which at multiple moments would have Chekhov himself weeping as the trigger is pulled.
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Vampire movies, which often incorporate a love story, are usually driven by the threat of discovery. The absence of that in Bones and All, despite leaving evidence all over the Great Plains, makes it a beautiful-looking movie that becomes too devoted to repeating the same note. There is no “all,” just bones.
Guadagnino has made a kind of emo horror movie. He’s far less interested in the shock factor than the poignant isolation of his young principal characters and the life raft they come to represent to one another as they slowly let down their guard.
For all of the blood, guts, and gore, for all of the stomach-cramming gluttony, here’s a story brimming with extraordinary romanticism. What emerges, by the end, is one hell of an ode to giving yourself to the ones you love: your bones and all.
Nodding to Badlands, Natural Born Killers, My Own Private Idaho, even The Lost Boys, Bones And All is as interested in loneliness, connection, self-identity, and fiscal invisibility as compulsion. Who misses the murdered if they don’t ‘exist’? And what adolescent hasn’t felt the creeping dread that their needs or bodies are out of step with society?
By the end, loving and eating, wanting and devouring are made to converge in ways that are both gruesome and fascinating, thought-provoking and oddly touching.
What's captivating about Bones & All is that it is so understated. The first few gory scenes suggest that Guadagnino has made an outrageous black comedy that gets its startled laughs and screams by contrasting the conventions of a coming-of-age romance with those of an X-rated monster movie. But soon Bones & All becomes entirely straight-faced. It isn't a horror film or a comedy, it's a sincere, sweet indie road movie that happens to feature bloodthirsty serial killers.
Bones and All is a concept in search of a story. The film doesn’t draw us in. It stumbles and lurches and seems to make itself up as it goes along. You may feel eaten alive with boredom.
Bones And All is an extravagant and outrageous movie: scary, nasty and startling in its warped romantic idealism.
Russell, a revelation in Trey Edward Shults’s under-seen Gen-Z melodrama Waves, is career-makingly good here, while Chalamet’s tender, tousled allure and razor-edge of raw danger powerfully recall the late River Phoenix: his Lee is a hustler to the core, always calculating where his next meal is coming from, and who he’ll have to sink his teeth into in order to get it.