The annual Telluride Film Festival offers the opportunity to see auteur filmmakers in their natural habitat, a “mountain of cinema” as the event’s foot soldiers call it, an event that courts movie buffs, bans selfies and offers a powerful Bloody Mary on its spectacular mountainside Opening day brunch.
The films these award-winning filmmakers brought to this year’s festival were a mixed bag. A valentine for the cinemas, Sam Mendes’ Empire of Light drew dismissive audiences when it premiered and generally lived up to expectations with its star Olivia Colman covering a variety of storytelling sins. Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Bardo, False Chronicle of a Fistful of Truths, on the other hand, was largely avoided by festival-goers after he had been beaten up in Venice days earlier. And Todd Field, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of “In the Bedroom” and “Little Children,” returned after a 16-year hiatus with “Tár,” an impeccably directed provocation guaranteed to divide audiences and give Cate Blanchett another Oscar will contribute.
Then there’s Luca Guadagnino’s Bones and All, a tender tale of young love starring Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell as fine young cannibals trying to negotiate their nature and doing their best to ethically source their next meal. “It doesn’t appear to be a Telluride film,” mused one senior festival patron, debating whether to attend a late-night screening. And not at first glance, which in some ways makes Bones and All the perfect Telluride film, a love story spiritually attuned to Terrence Malick’s Badlands and with a keen understanding of what people on the fringes of society are up to have to do to survive.
It’s also a film that begins with its protagonist, shy teenage Maren (Russell, who was a big discovery in the unsung gem Waves three years ago), who goes on a sleepover and amidst a genius bond over nail colors, chews and devours a classmate’s finger down to the lump.
Guadagnino has been making films for almost a quarter of a century and is of course best known for directing and producing another coming-of-age love story, 2017’s ‘Call Me By Your Name’, which received four Oscar nominations, including for best film. and hurled screams of “Timothéeeeeeeeeeeee” into the ether.
Chalamet deserves one of those Oscars, and he’s just as good in Bones and All. (He always delivers, even when cast against sandworms.) Here, Chalamet plays Lee, an “eater” who meets Maren after her father abandoned her, not long after the sleepover incident. They share more than the need for human flesh. They were both ostracized by their families and society. Lee has taken on a “big attitude” because, he notes, he’s “140 pounds, wet.” He aggressively dances to the KISS anthem “Lick It Up,” which is part of a record collection belonging to one of his victims. (For some music snobs, owning this album itself would merit a death sentence.)
Chalamet is a master at conveying wounded fragility, and he’s balanced here by Russell in a way that should be a star remembered well into awards season. Maren shakes off her self-loathing and becomes not just a survivor, but someone who hopes she can share some semblance of normal life. If this sounds a little too romantic for a cannibal flick, know that Mark Rylance is also on board, playing a creepy vintage eater who has the time of his life stripping down to his tight whites to enjoy a feast of human flesh to enjoy.
Bones and All will be a challenge for Oscar voters who prefer their cannibals to eat their victims’ livers off-screen with some broad beans and a nice Chianti. But Guadagnino has delivered a film that’s in many ways just as gorgeous as Call Me by Your Name, minus all the gorgeous Italian scenery and intricate script by James Ivory. (David Kajganich adapted “Bones and All” from the novel by Camille DeAngelis.)
However, gluttons for good movies will devour it.
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2022-09-04/bones-all-oscars-timothee-chalamet-telluride-film-festival Oscar buzz on Timothée Chalamet cannibal movie ‘Bones & All’