Director Luca Guadagnino nails it with ‘Bones and All’, a sweet coming-of-age romance with a juicy twist and a bit of bite

Dinner date: Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet in ‘Bones and All’.

BONES AND ALL ***1/2 (131 minutes) MA
We get so many coming-of-age films about young people working their way through their awkward feelings it’s nice to see such a sweet romantic road movie as Bones and All put a dainty little twist on the proceedings.

Maren (Taylor Russell) is trying hard to fit in at school and live the life of a normal teenager, but for one small issue: she’s a cannibal. So, too, is her father and a surprising amount of people, who can sniff out others of the same bent.

With little impulse control over her hunger, she’s abandoned by her loving dad and heads off across the American heartland searching for her mother.

She encounters fellow “eaters” on her journey: Sully (Mark Rylance), a kind, elderly gent who has refined the art of eating his way through people and places; and Lee (Timothée Chalamet), a fellow drifter with whom young Maren forms a natural attachment.

When meal time hits there’s not a lot of holding back, with blood flowing and spurting all over the place as the ”eaters” chow down on the raw flesh of their latest kills, most of whom still have their clothes on.

Yet for all the body horror scenes, the film is more of a tender romance with bits of cannibalism in it rather than an all-out horror film about cannibalism with some romance stapled on to trick people into thinking it has any depth.

Like a travelogue of places you’d never intentionally visit, Maren and Lee’s trek across the great interior is studded with plenty of unintentionally attractive heartland-America locations: diners; service stations; small-town Main streets. The middle of nowhere never looked so beautiful.

The earthy performances from Russell and Chalamet help sell the film as a road movie romance with a difference, with the ever-versatile Mark Rylance doing typically superb work as a lost soul hungry for friendship, amongst other things.

It’s also good to see a rising young star such as Chalamet (Dune; A Rainy Day in New York; Don’t Look Up) putting his all into such an off-beat role.

Very well-directed, steadily paced and absorbing, Bones and All is easily the best, most balanced and satisfying film yet from Luca Guadagnino, a director who has churned out some overrated films in recent years: A Bigger Splash; the terrible Suspiria remake; and the gay romance Call Me By Your Name, which also starred Chalamet and, interestingly, Armie Hammer who, allegedly, has an interest in the topic at the centre of Bones and All.