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Movie Review: Love Will Swallow You “BONES AND ALL” In Luca Guadagnino’s Latest

Sunday, November 27, 2022 | Reviews


Starring Taylor Russel, Timothée Chalamet, Mark Rylance
Written by David Kajganich
Directed by Luca Guadagnino
MGM Studios

Luca Guadagnino’s diverging cinematic instincts as exhibited by Call Me By Your Name (2017) and Suspiria (2018) reach a discordant harmony in the Italian director’s horrific road romance BONES AND ALL, starring Escape Room’s Taylor Russell and recurring Guadagnino muse Timothée Chalamet in what is essentially his horror debut. 

BONES AND ALL is not, however, the actor’s first time portraying a flesh-eater. In 2017, after being named one of The New York Times’s ten best actors of the year, Chalamet was featured in one of the magazine’s video shorts, “The Cannibal,” as a part of the series Great Performers: Horror Show. The suave, gentlemanly cannibal of the Times’ short, however – while reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter – has little in common with Tim’s BONES AND ALL character, Lee. The cannibals of Guadagnino’s film, who call themselves ‘eaters,’ waste no time preparing gourmet meals with their victims. Instead, they tear the meat right off the bone of dead bodies like the zombies of the Romero cinematic universe. 

Timothée Chalamet as Lee

‘Eating’ symbolizes many things in Guadagnino’s vision of cannibalism – love, lust, addiction, and familial cycles of mental illness and abuse, just to name a few. But the meaning behind these metaphors is never truly realized, and pure shock value is employed just as often as psychological horror. Both forces culminate in Mark Rylance’s antagonist and fellow ‘eater,’ Sully. Sully is a predator, in many senses of the word, but also a social outcast not unlike Lee and Maren themselves. After Sully takes an interest in Maren – the eaters can disturbingly smell one another out – Lee and Maren come to depend on one another for protection, survival, and eventually for deep emotional support.

The narrative hops through different stages in Maren’s developing understanding of herself as an eater, but leaves many of her most formative moments with Lee offscreen – or sets them against a sparse score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The score ties together the 1980s synth soundtrack of the Americana setting with the staccato style of contemporary horror composers such as Colin Stetson (Hereditary, The Menu). Drawing comparisons to films such as Badlands and Bonnie and Clyde, however, BONES AND ALL is more like a role reversal of Guadagino’s own Call Me By Your Name, had Armie Hammer in fact been a cannibal. 

Maren (Taylor Russell) and Sully (Mark Rylance)

Being a cannibal even takes on allegorical comparisons to queerness in BONES AND ALL, wherein same-sex seduction is used as a hunting technique for targeting unmarried adults. If this concept strikes you as having an undercurrent of homophobia, you might not be mistaken. At the same time, there no denying the erotic appeal of cannibalistic activity, as explored by thematically similar material such as Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal or Julia Ducournau’s Raw; neither of which, tragically, BONES AND ALL manages to surpass. 

Yet, there is an undeniable strength in the film’s two central performances, the magnetism of which overpowers the film’s directionless nature. Russell and Chalamet have obvious chemistry and look beautiful together on screen. Taylor Russell herself is the heart and soul of the film and carries the ugliness of her character’s existence with grace. BONES AND ALL takes a look beneath the skin of a wide range of human impulses through the unflinching gaze of a person who eats other people, whether they have to (as in some cases) or choose to (as in others).

BONES AND ALL is playing in cinemas now.


Grace Detwiler
Rue Morgue's Online Assistant Editor - Grace Detwiler (@finalgirlgrace) is a freelance film journalist and law student. Her original work can be found on her blog, FinalGirlGrace, as well as in Rue Morgue's print and online publications.