Love at first bite

Will Ferris
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Bones and All (18, 130 Minutes)

Think of the most heinous crimes imaginable. An incident so foul it sent shivers down your spine and made you contemplate the dark depths of human depravity. There’s plenty of them, I’m sure. Murders, asaults, all manners of misdeeds. How about cannibalism? A repugnant concept, but it’s very real and happening out there as I sit writing this now. Only last month a couple, along with an accomplice, were arrested in Karal, India after eating the body parts of two women during a ritualistic sacrifice.

Given how grim all this sounds, who in their right mind would consider making a film that romanticizes cannibalism? Who, I ask you, who?

Luca Guadagnino, of course. The director is back in the frame four years after his remake of Suspiria, which I’ve long considered to be a masterpiece of modern horror, but somehow failed to impress at the box office.

Guadagnino is known as one of those directors who pushes visual boundaries. He shows us things we don’t necessarily want to see. Things we are repulsed by. But he does it for a purpose – not to shock, but to explore. Sometimes that requires diving head first into the darkness.

I must admit, on my way to see this latest release, I had very little knowledge of the film’s plot, let alone the themes within. Somehow I had built this idea in my mind that, after its successes at the London Film Festival and in Venice, this would be a loving road trip film about two teenagers falling in love in Reagan’s mid 1980s America.

How wrong I was.

Maren (Taylor Russell) is forced to flee her home after a bitey incident at a sleepover. Suddenly abandoned by her father, she is left with a wad of cash and a tape recorder, through which dad reveals Maren has grown up with an insatiable hunger for human flesh.

Left to her own devices, Maren sets out on a road trip across the US to find her mother, where she meets her soulmate and fellow feeder Lee (Timothee Chalamet) and evades the attentions of the insidious Sully (Mark Rylance).

Macabre and extremely hard to watch at times, the film appears to be a romantic coming-of-age story about two outcasts trying to find their place in the world. But rooting for the lovers is difficult. There are points where it becomes easy to forget that these two are blood-thirsty murderers partaking in horrific acts. Perhaps the only saving grace for their morality is one rule: never eat one of your own.

It feels absurd to actually want to like Maren and Lee, who is played by Timothee Chalamet – an ideal name for a wealthy mouse – and yet there is a charm to their relationship, despite the whole eating people thing.

But it’s Rylance who dominates this film with his remarkably chilling performance – a leering, creepy Grandad-like figure longing for a companion. He slithers through the film unseen, present in that world, always watching. A malevolent mix somewhere between Hannibal Lecter and Forrest Gump.

Guadagnino’s edit is nauseatingly cut at times, hopping from angle to angle with random, subliminal moments thrown in to repulse us even further. Whilst his motive with the film is unclear, it proves to be a thrilling piece about self-identity and human darkness.

It certainly makes you think twice about the people you pass by every day.

RATING: 8/10