Maren (Taylor Russell) is a quiet, isolated teen living in small-town, backroad Americana. It’s immediately apparent that Maren yearns for connection, but making friends at a new school isn’t easy when your dad locks you in your room every night. When she finally sneaks out for a sleepover one evening, we’re cheering for her freedom – until, caught in the relaxed throes of girlish intimacy, sweet Maren chomps off someone’s finger and savours it like a fat, satisfied cat.
It turns out her dad wasn’t paranoid about protecting her from the world; he was trying to protect the world from her. Maren is a cannibal, an irresistible compulsion that has kept them on the run for years. When she awakes on her 18th birthday to find her dad has abandoned her and left only some cash, her birth certificate, and a cassette of her history, she decides to search for her mother in hopes she may have answers as to Maren’s nature.
Russell is phenomenal as a conflicted young woman torn by shame, desire, and wavering morals, perfectly matched with Timothée Chalamet’s Lee, a fellow “feeder” whose soothing assurance conceals old wounds. Elsewhere, Mark Rylance is deliciously creepy as Sully, a veteran flesh-eater who shows Maren the ropes.
Luca Guadagnino and writer David Kajganich skilfully weave a bizarrely sweet, thoughtful coming-of-age romance about two young cannibals simply trying to find their place. The film brings together disparate elements with delicate ease: grisly gore, tenderness, sensuality, melancholia, and a strangely Romantic notion of the world. Bones and All is as violently carnal as it is elegant – an unmissable, wryly funny, and oddly poignant addition to the cannibal canon.Bones and All releases in cinemas from November 23rd.