Bones and All Review

(L to R) Taylor Russell as Maren and Mark Rylance as Sully in BONES AND ALL, directed by Luca Guadagnino, a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film. Credit: Yannis Drakoulidis / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures © 2022 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Growing up, our teenage years are always the hardest. During this time we are trying to prove that we can be adults but also trying to figure out our place in the world. Add to that hormones, schoolwork, and a taste for human flesh and things are going to be really difficult. Bones and All shows the viewers that everyone wants to feel that they belong and the difficulty of living a normal life. This is not your average love story.

Bones and All introduces us to Maren, a teen that lives with her father. She is quiet and is invited by one of her friends to a sleepover. She tells her friend she can not go but her friend tells her to sneak out of the house once her father is asleep and attend the sleepover. Maren decides to sneak out and goes to the sleepover. Once there she is laying on the floor next to a classmate and they are talking about their parents. Seems pretty innocent enough, right?

As the conversation goes into Maren not knowing who her mother is we notice that she is sniffing the air but it is not the air that she is sniffing. Her friends show Maren her painted nails when Maren takes her friend’s finger and places it in her mouth and starts biting down on it. The friend starts screaming and you see Maren pulling the flesh from the finger. As the girls start screaming for Maren to stop she runs out of the house and goes home. She bangs on the door for her dad to let her in and he tells her to start packing and that they need to be out before the police arrive.

This opening scene shows us that something like this has happened before and the father knows how to deal with it. Maren has to leave all that she has known behind and now restart somewhere else with her father. One morning, Maren wakes up and realizes that her father is not around. He left her a cassette tape, an envelope of money, and her birth certificate. Maren decides she is going to use that money to try to find her mother. The cassette tape plays the part of narrator in a way. As Maren listen to the tape throughout the movie we get to learn more about her and her backstory.

Maren soon meets Sullivan, who is an older man that was able to smell Maren and know what she was. Sully, as he calls himself, teaches Maren about their kind and what they are capable of doing. He tells her how some of their kind has rules about feeding and gives her his rules. Sully, played by Mark Rylance, balances on friendly and creepy in the movie. Watching him makes you unsure if you should trust him or run away from him. Maren decides to leave Sully and continues on her hunt for her mother.

Taylor Russell (left) as Maren and Timothée Chalamet (right) as Lee in BONES AND ALL, directed by Luca Guadagnino, a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film. Credit: Yannis Drakoulidis / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures © 2022 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

On one of her stops Maren meets Lee. She is able to use some of the tactics she learned from Sully to identify the Lee is like her. They soon start a friendship that leads to more as ther travels take them across the country to find Maren’s mom. Lee, like Sully, teachers Maren about how to live their life. Along their travels they meet others like them and learn about the phrase “Bones and All”.

The relationship/friendship between Lee and Maren is something to behold. Both of them are lost and are trying to find a place to belong. While it seems that Lee has everything figured out, we do see that he has personal issues that cause his nomad lifestyle. Maren feels that she has found the right person to be her friend but soon things get too real for her in an incident that involves a carnival worker.

Bones and All greatly exemplifies wanting to live a normal life when you know that you are not normal. Maren and Lee show the viewer that there will be small moments when everything seems normal but all that can change in a second. This is shown to us when Maren finally meets her mother in an institution. The meeting does not go as planned but Maren learns more about why her mother left. Chloë Sevigny will give you chills in this scene with her minimallist acting.

Although it seems that Maren and Lee are going to live a great life together Sully comes into the picture again to destroy their dream of a regular life. These final few minutes of the film are not only intense but also heartbreaking. Guadagnino gives us a beautiful story of wanting to belong and shows us the horros of what some do to belong. Bones and All will stay with you once the credits stop rolling.

Final Thoughts: Bones and All is a beautiful story of two young people looking for a place to call home. They want to feel like they belong and their only chance is by being together. Their lifestyle does hinder them from living a normal life and Guadagnino does not shy from showing us this other side of them. While the movie may have a violent side to it, it also shows us the hope of those wanting to belong.

Kid-Friendly: The movie is based on a young adult novel by Camille DeAngelis but is not for kids. While the story of belonging is universal certain elements of the movie are too intense for younger viewers. This movie would be recommended for ages 17 and up.

Violence: There is a lot of violence in this movie. There are fights, stabbings, and a scene involving suffocating someone with a bag. There is some sexual content and brief nudity in the movie.

BONES AND ALL is a story of first love between Maren, a young woman learning how to survive on the margins of society, and Lee, an intense and disenfranchised drifter; a liberating road odyssey of two young people coming into their own, searching for identity and chasing beauty in a perilous world that cannot abide who they are.

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