In contrast, an infallibly charming Chalamet doesn’t stretch his emotional range much. He puts forward a familiar rehashing of other cool, but secretly tortured young men who have become a staple in his still nascent collection of roles in prestigious fare.
Then there’s the third key player in this “Nomadland” meets “Raw” trip: Sully (Mark Rylance), an odd eater that shows Maren the ropes at the beginning of her self-discovery as a cannibal. What renders Rylance’s supporting turn exceptional is that one never doubts Sully is a person that truly exists. There’s a lived-in quality in his bizarre mannerisms, his heavily decorated clothing, and other eccentricities. Blood-soaked, he shares with Maren the organic memento he carries around to keep track of those he has consumed.
Guadagnino’s frequent collaborator Michael Stuhlbarg and director David Gordon Green, in a rare acting part, show up for chilling cameos. They help cement “Bones and All” as an amalgamation of the Italian filmmaker’s tales of amorous complications such as “Call Me by Your Name” or “A Bigger Splash” and his genre sensibilities put to the test in “Suspiria.”
Back to the significance of the photos that Lee and Maren encounter as they traverse several states over one summer: while these images reveal information on the people in them, they also lack depth and are limited in what they can tell us. That “Bones and All” opens with shots of paintings depicting landscapes that exist outside of the walls of Maren’s high school illustrates how these renditions are mere interpretations of reality. Likewise, the photos only capture a brief glimpse of a person and not who they are in full beyond the confines of that frame, and of the time it immortalizes. People change.
“Bones and All” plays out as a can’t-look-away, riveting experience for most of its running time. It’s easy to get entranced by its modestly sumptuous imagery, the believable chemistry of the volatile couple, and even the rattling bluntness of the graphic sequences.
But once the pair reaches Maren’s original destination, Minnesota, and a confrontation with a family member ensues, the film loses steam that cannot be regained from the choppy flashbacks that saturate the final act of Guadagnino’s latest. Even the heart-to-heart confessional between the flesh-eating lovebirds, where they agree to try their hand at a peacefully mundane existence, overexplains what was knowingly unspoken.
The takeaway of its metaphor, that there’s always someone out there who can empathize with one’s plight, applies to any of the reasons we may feel ostracized, desperate to leave home, or profoundly alone. Based on those philosophical preoccupations, as well as more obvious wordplay reasons, “Bones and All” could have just as easily shared a title with another fall season release: “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed.”
Now playing in theaters.