At the Movies with Alan Gekko: Bones and All “2022”

At the Movies with Alan Gekko: Bones and All “2022”

MPAA Rating: R/Genre: Coming of Age Romantic Horror/ Stars: Taylor Russell, Timothée Chalamet, Mark Rylance, Michael Stuhlbarg, André Holland, Chloë Sevigny, David Gordon Green, Jessica Harper, Jake Horowitz, Anna Cobb, Kendle Coffey/Runtime: 130 minutes

I think it is safe to start this review off dear reader by telling you about a pair of seemingly unrelated concepts that I promise you for the sake of this review most assuredly are connected to the slice of cinema I am reviewing for you today. The first of these concepts is found courtesy of loving grandmothers who, when they see their precious grandchildren for the first time in what may seem like forever to them (but is really only 3 days), look at these children and say “oh what lovely children! I could just eat you up!” and proceeds to lay upon them a mountain of wonderful and genuinely heartfelt kisses. The second is that whenever students fail to turn in their homework a certain number of tries, the student is warned to be careful because if they don’t start to doing so then the teacher is most assuredly going to give them heck for it or in another way of phrasing them “eat them alive”. Now the way that these are connected to the slice of cinema I am reviewing for you today, the recently released Bones and All, is because can’t we just take a moment to be thankful that no member of either of these respective parties has ever (as far as I know) decided to make their respective statement literal? Jokes aside though, there is no denying that you might be thinking that Bones and All, based off the trailer, looks to be yet another YA cinematic adaptation that deals with a romance between people who aren’t quite people. Yet, unlike the nap-worthy Twilight franchise, this one doesn’t dabble in vampires and werewolves, but instead sets its sights primarily on people who eat other people (or cannibals for short). However, also unlike the Twilight franchise, this film is actually really freaking good. Indeed when you factor in beautiful and magnetic work behind the camera and downright riveting work in front by a truly game cast, there is no denying that Bones and All is that rare (but by no means unwelcome) romantic horror film that is able to succeed at being full of both beating heart and vicious bite in equal measure.

The plot is as follows: So right off the bat I guess I should point out one little detail that may or may not be relevant. That being that the word “cannibal” isn’t exactly accurate to what is occurring here. Rather, the individuals at the heart of this who deal with a genetic issue that necessitates that they eat other people to live are known as “eaters”. With that in mind, our story begins by introducing us to a young woman by the name of Maren. A young woman who is a seemingly ordinary high school girl with the key exceptions being that her strict dad keeps moving them from place to place, doesn’t let her engage in social functions with people her age under any circumstances, or even talk to her about her mother who disappeared without a trace when she was younger. This all comes to head though when one night our heroine decides to creep out of the house in the middle of the night to spend time with some friends she has made at school. However, rather than engage in the time-honored traditions of Truth or Dare, gushing about crushes, and the like we see that things take a turn for the grisly courtesy of Maren deciding to inexplicably chomp down on her friend’s finger before then bolting away into the night confused and scared. We soon learn that her dear ol’ pop is not only aware that this could happen, but has been get ready for this for quite a while. A fact that soon becomes apparent courtesy of both moving them to a new town posthaste, but shortly thereafter ups and drop kicks her to the curb with nothing but a pile of cash as well as a tape that tells her everything she needs to know about this ailment she is stricken with. We soon learn along with our heroine that this disease was given to her by the aforementioned mother who abandoned her thus resulting in our heroine deciding to head out on a road trip through the Midwest to try and locate her. We soon see that this trip takes a turn for the nightmarish when an older and more than slightly sinister member of the eater community by the name of Sully locates our heroine at a bus stop and decides to show her the 101 to how he lives the eater lifestyle. Finding a bit too much, we see our heroine decide to head out on her own once more where we see her cross paths with a rebel without a cause-style eater her age by the name of Lee. A young man who not only captures her heart, but also decides to help her with her mission of finding her mom. Thus can our two young lovers not only find Maren’s mom, but also locate a chance to potentially have as normal of a life as two people with their condition could hope for? That I will leave for you to discover for yourself……

Now right off the bat, it should be noted that the work being done behind the camera is nothing short of top-tier. Indeed, as our two main characters traverse the country on this truly one-of-a-kind road trip, we as movie goers get to witness as film helmer Guadagnino as well as his head of the cinematography department, one Arseni Khachaturan, do a terrific job of providing each locale that is visited with a distinct appearance whilst also utilizing celluloid in order to showcase equal degrees of evocative passion as well as enigmatic pathos fairly consistently throughout this slice of cinema’s runtime. Heck this creative duo also shows that they are even willing to engage in some sneaky behavior with perspective at several points where we see some truly striking memories manage to infiltrate the thoughts of our two main characters to such an extent that it almost feels like this slice of cinema is trying to ground their worrisome thought processes in corporeal feelings and then all but scorch these items into the film itself. Meanwhile, this slice of cinema also is the recipient of a truly magnificent musical accompaniment from composing duo Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross respectively. Indeed, this pair manage to do a wonderful job of giving this slice of cinema a score that has a mood to it that is equal parts playful yet also poignant with every elongated, solo note from the guitar all but awaiting the next one to fill the air as it is trying to bridge the gap in the silence between the two until its patience pays off and the quiet is transformed into an otherworldly and divinely-sounding tune. A tune that may be what music views falling in love with another person to be, but is also a hint of grief-stricken as well as if to suggest to us that as passionate and spirited as the romance between our pair of characters may be, we should also prepare ourselves because there is also the very real possibility that it might not work out in the long haul for a multitude of reasons. Along with that, it should be noted that while there are some distinct twists and curves in this cinematic road to nowhere that don’t quite land as well as they ought to, but there are few (if any) instances where this slice of cinema is not completely riveting. Praise then must be given to the creative team behind the camera for utilizing the emotion of sorrow not as an influence on what occurs, but as a cinematic wave that ebbs and flows with the load carried by the past even in the time before our main characters are able to completely unearth it. As a result, what we are being given here is a slice of cinema that deals with a love that is as much a chore as it is a freedom umbrella for its main characters to relish and be themselves under. Suffice it to say therefore that, much like the film they are a part of, these components all manage to do a wonderful job of being an equal mix of unnerving yet also weirdly and effectively heartfelt in a way that is no more and no less than pure cinematic magic.

Of course, all the magic in the world behind the camera is only half the equation to what makes for a genuinely great slice of cinema dear reader. For the rest, the work in front of the camera needs to be on-point in its own right. Thankfully, that is one issue that this slice of cinema is not saddled with as every single member of the cast is on-point here. Even with that in mind though, there are a few performances that should be pointed out above the rest. For starters though, I would just like to point out that this slice of cinema’s choice to pair up Taylor Russell and Timothee Chalamet in this is nothing short of brilliant since their performances individually manage to match up in beautiful synchronicity with one another beat for beat. Having said that though, I should point out that although a lot of the marketing for this slice of cinema has chosen to place its concentration on Chalamet, it is Taylor Russell who is very much meant to be the beating heart of this film. Indeed, the character of Maren may be a complex collection of assorted emotions, but Russell is able to distinguish and put just the right amount of emphasis on each and every one. Not only that, but for a character that is having to deal with the world on her own whilst also trying to find a spot within it to call her own, Russell does a commendable job of ensuring her performance is relaxed and composed whilst also ensuring that every intricacy is methodically pondered on in order to give movie goers as riveting of a lead character as she possibly can thus making for one heck of a performance that I hope sees even greater opportunities for this fantastic talent in the future. We also see that, surprise surprise, Timothee Chalamet also manages to provide audiences with yet another magnetic turn in this as Lee. Yet even though the character of Maren is one that has emotion to spare to say nothing of being wracked by both shame as well as dismay, the film initially deceives us by making us think the character is nothing more than the iconic bad boy-type and no more and no less. However, as the narrative goes along, we soon see that his walls begin to come down just enough to show, without going into spoilers, that there is a lot more to this guy than meets the eye at first glance and as a result what could have been a one-note performance is really provided with a rich and wonderful degree of characterization that helps it out immensely. Of course, I would be totally amiss if I didn’t mention the work done here by Mark Rylance who may be known for his roles in such cinematic efforts as Ready Player One, Dunkirk, The BFG, and Bridge of Spies, but here gives us a turn that is no more and no less than downright terror-inducing. Yes, his character Sully may come and go from the narrative quite a bit due to being most assuredly a co-starring turn. Yet I guarantee you that every time he appears not only does it serve as nightmare fodder, but he will be all you can concentrate on at that point in time to the point that I wouldn’t be surprised if he is listed as one of the best villains in a horror movie from this year in the future. Suffice it to say that when you also factor in terrific efforts from such screen dignitaries as Michael Stuhlbarg, Jessica Harper, Andre Holland, David Gordon Green, and Chloe Sevigny in a small yet pivotal role I think it is safe to say that the collection of performances on display here is Grade-A in every sense of the word.

All in all and at the end of the day, I’m just going to come right out and say that this was a weird slice of cinema to go see in theaters following a lunch of Thanksgiving leftovers. Along with that, I should also mention at this time that if you eat cranberry sauce with turkey, ham, (or any meat in general really) and you don’t have a strong stomach then you might want to wait 5-6 hours after eating minimum before going to see this slice of cinema. Jokes aside though dear reader, I must confess that I did really enjoy this movie. Sure, there are a few issues to be found here and there throughout this slice of cinema’s runtime, but by the end of it they all prove to be absolutely miniscule in the grand scheme of things. With that in mind though, the work behind the camera is absolutely hypnotically alluring and the cast that has been assembled in front of the camera, no matter how big or small their role in the overall narrative may be, all manage to give absolutely riveting performances here. Suffice it to say then Bones and All is not just a film that would make for a killer Valentine’s Day movie to watch with your significant other (pun intended). Rather, it is also a slice of cinema that operates as an emotional, potent, and yet quite bleak and visceral at points tale about the universal craving we as people all possess to not only have someone in our lives, but to also be loved for who we are as individuals no matter what. A craving incidentally that I guess we now can also establish is in fact shared by those who crave people in the same way that I’ve been craving this rather delicious slice of pumpkin pie that has been staring at me while I’ve been writing this review. Make of that therefore what thou will dear reader. On a scale of 1-5 I give Bones and All a solid 4 out of 5.