‘Bones and All’ serves up a strange stew with its subtle love story of young cannibals. CNN



With the promise of a “Call Me By Your Name” mini-reunion from directors Luca Guadagnino and Timothée Chalamet, “Bones and All” straddles a number of genres, so far the least likely star to appear in a story with the word “cannibals.” A road movie about young cannibals finding love (the title “Fine Young Cannibals” comes to mind), it’s a strange and intriguing but ultimately unsatisfying stew.

Despite Chalamet’s marquee appeal, the film actually belongs to and focuses on co-star Taylor Russell (who had an outstanding supporting role in “Waves”) as teenager Maren, who discovers her hunger for human flesh, a condition that eventually leads to her father. Caused (Andre Holland) to give up trying to protect him.

Forced to strike out on her own, Maren discovers a hidden community of people with similar unorthodox diets, learning how they accommodate those requests. It begins with Sully (Mark Rylance, also freely chewing on the scenery), an eccentric character who tries to help give him advice but gives off a decidedly creepy vibe.

Set in the 1980s, it doesn’t take long to meet Maren Lee (Chalamet), who is both close to her age and dreamy, even if she occasionally kills and eats anyone who at least looks worthy of it. At that point, “Bones and All” becomes a tale of two starving lovers, as Maren seeks to better understand her history by searching for the mother who abandoned her, while Lee separately tries to make peace with his own family.

The pair’s journey has an inevitably episodic quality, and in terms of strictly screen time, Chalamet plays a significant but relatively modest role. Guadagnino doesn’t dwell too much on the details of this cannibal subculture — a metaphor for a whole lot, vampirism as its most obvious cinematic predecessor — but anyone drawn in by the romance should at least be forewarned that it’s not short on gore.

The most frustrating aspect of “Bones and All” stems from the gaps in all the movie’s knowledge (from a book by screenwriter David Kazganich by Camille DeAngelis, who worked with the director on “A Bigger Splash” and “Suspiria”) in the simple scenes between us. Fill in about these strangers in hiding, or what living with their plight, if you can call it that, looks like.

Instead, the focus is narrowly on the here and now, on Maren’s personal plight, which does not widen the lens to contemplate the world beyond. It’s that rare movie that, despite its flaws, leaves you wanting more, whereas the limited series version would probably be more rewarding.

Yet Russell delivers a breakthrough performance, anchoring the movie in Maren’s uncertainty and vulnerability, which provides necessary ballast given the florid nature of the characters around her.

Granted, she’s not the first teenager to wear down her parents to the point of threatening to suck the life out of them. “Bones and All” just takes that dynamic more literally than most, feeling more like an appetizer than a meal, narratively speaking.

“Bones and All” premieres in US theaters on November 18 It is rated R.