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Angsty cannibals have their day in ‘Bones and All’



“Bones and All”

Rated R. At the AMC Boston Common, Regal Fenway, Landmark Kendall Square, Coolidge Corner and suburban theaters

Grade: B-

Based on the 2015 YA hit novel by Camille DeAngelis adapted to the screen by director Luca Guadagnino’s frequent collaborator David Kajganich (“Suspiria”), “Bones and All” starts out sometime in Reagan-era Virginia when its heroine Maren (Taylor Russell (TV’s “Lost in Space”) gets out of her room in which she had been locked by her father to attend a sleepover with a friend, who seems to have a crush on her. Something bad happens, involving a bitten finger. Maren returns to the rental she shared with her father. But he has flown the coop, leaving her a tape recording and some money to get by until she can figure our what to do. Because he has also left her birth certificate, Maren decides to seek out her mother. From the tape, we learn Maren first “chewed somebody up” when she was three, and that she was “very clever.” She is also an avid reader and is currently – ahem – devouring Tolkien.

On the road in the Midwest, Maren runs into the super-creepy Sully played by Academy Award-winner Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”). Sully is a fellow cannibal. He can smell Maren from a sizable distance. She discovers that she can smell him, too. He instantly begins to mentor Maren, who has never met a fellow “eater” before. He has a rope made out of the hair of his victims. It is long and disgusting. He takes Maren to a house in which an old woman is on the floor dying. They wait until she’s dead. Sully then chows down, his face a mask of gore. Lifting the old woman’s forearm like a drumstick, Maren tucks in. Guadagnino discreetly pulls his camera away.

Maren flees from Sully and runs into Lee (Timothee Chalamet of Guadagnino’s “Call Me by Your Name”). Lee is a handsome fellow eater. It’s “Cat People” time. After luring an amusement park worker into a cornfield with the prospect of gay sex, Lee pounces. It’s lunchtime, lovers. Lee and Maren steal the guy’s truck and hit the road together. In the film’s best scene, Lee dances to Kiss’s “Lick It Up.” Eat it, Tom Cruise.

“Bones and All” channels everything from “Night of the Living Dead” to Jim Jarmusch’s “Only Lovers Left Alive” (2013). Yes, it’s full of teen angst, isolation, alienation and impulse and food issues. It also has a truly scary Michael Stuhlbarg – another “Call Me by your Name” alum – as an “eater” named Jake, who seems eager to break the “eaters-do-not-eat-other eaters” rule. Lee appears to be a bisexual cannibal. He and Maren are attracted to one another. But in this cut anyway, they do not do the deed. What Maren finds in due course in a mental institution will give you the shivers. The moody music is by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. We also get singles by Lou Reed and Joy Division. That’s all fine. The trouble with “Bones and All” is that its cannibal Romeo and Juliet are boring compared to almost everyone and everything else.

(“Bones and All” contain violence, gruesome images, a sexually suggestive scene and profanity)


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