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Grisly Romance On The Road: My Thoughts On ‘Bones And All’

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

How do you find the words for a story that transcends the need for language? When boundless communication lies in the scent, the gaze, the taste, of what use are fleeting words? 

While this will be a spoiler-free review, I would advise going into Bones and All with as little information as possible. 

The film follows Maren Yearly (Taylor Russel) and Lee (Timothee Chalamet), indulging in both each other and other curiosities along the Midwestern countryside.

Bones and All is not for the faint of heart or stomach. While you can assume a dangerous tale of two, uh, ‘outsiders’ may not always be pretty or easy to digest, the film is not just a visual gore-fest. In fact, I struggled to tear my eyes away from the screen (except for one more emotionally than visually triggering part). 

Shot on 35mm Kodak film, some shots look torn out of Stephen Shore’s stylebook. The photographer’s work “American Surfaces” sought to capture the mundane beauties of the U.S., and director Luca Guadagnino seems inspired by this same rustic American beauty. Hallways, landscapes, and bodies are all filmed with complexity and offer consistently compelling imagery.

Two of my favorite shots are entirely different and yet equally stunning: a doorway at the end of a flight of stairs in a narrow hall and two youths climbing a fence, one gazing up at the other who reaches the peak. 

I would describe Bones and All as made in the same vein as The End of the F***ing World. Stuffed with oversized brown jackets, loose-fitting floral button-ups, roadside romance, and empathy for the jaded and “scary” beings who travel our roads. While there are intense moments of conflict, a good portion of the film is just dedicated to, and I say this only half ironically, vibes. Truly just some road trip, young love, and Americana vibes. 

The acting is phenomenal, treated with impressive respect for the gross and unflinching. Whether snot hanging down and wiped across the face or spit puddling in the corner until it hangs low, the cast and its director repeatedly seek authenticity and raw imagery. 

Bones and All is an endlessly fascinating look at relationships; it’s sexual, familial, and communal. It begs us to wonder about control and what we owe each other, if anything at all. Who and what decides what we take claim over, what impulses we give into, and what our relationships look like? It displays a tenderness not often granted to the people it devotes its time, and I applaud it for its ambition and ability to take a supposedly outlandish story and boil it down to everyday human emotions. So many of us feel lonely, bad, and unwelcome, and while the cause of that may not always be our appetite, pain is universal… but so is love.

I also just picked up the novel the film is based on, Bones & All. I’ve made it a couple of chapters in and am very excited to continue.

Ariana Martinez (they/them) is a Florida-based freelance writer and filmmaker currently pursuing a degree in cinema studies. Their work gravitates toward explorations of gender and sexuality in film and T.V and they have a Youtube channel and website, Awake in the A.M., dedicated to film analysis. In their free time, they enjoy traveling and yelling at the t.v. with their friends.