Telluride Film Festival reviews: ‘Bones & All,’ ‘The Wonder,’ ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’

To feed or not to feed, that’s the perennially pressing question of film festival-goers: whether it’s wiser to call off a screening and find some much-needed food (or a drink or a nap), or just hang on and hope that sheer cinephile- Adrenaline is fuel enough. That was pretty much the dilemma I found myself in at the Telluride Film Festival, towards the end of an entire Saturday of screenings for which I foolishly forgot to pack any snacks beforehand. With limited options, I settled into an 10 p.m. show — my fourth and final film of the day — with a pack of Starbursts I’d salvaged from the theater’s understandably empty concession stand, and decided to buy a proper one the next morning to indulge in a meal.

I mention all of this because it was amusing to watch Bones and All, a strange, tender and frightening cannibal love story by Italian director Luca Guadagnino, while trying to keep the noise of crackling candy wrappers and my own growling stomach to a minimum to reduce . In hindsight they were perhaps the ideal setting for a picture that would have played out differently and, I suspect, less pleasantly on a full stomach. And there’s real fun in Bones and All, a haunting sweetness that somehow both feeds and cleanses away the horror. Set in much of Central America in the late 1980s, the film is shot in a grittier, less polished style than Guadagnino’s Italian-set dramas (I Am Love, A Bigger Splash, Call Me By Your Name). ‘), but it exerts its own earthy, dreamlike pull. It casts – and sometimes violently breaks – its own lyrical spell.

Written by David Kajganich (who also wrote the screenplay for Guadagnino’s previous horror outing, the 2018 remake of “Suspiria”), the story follows Maren (a great Taylor Russell, “Waves”), a lonely, abandoned teenager who – in a moment that is shocking, sad and hilarious at the same time – turns out to be the “Eater”, a person with an insatiable appetite for human flesh. For years, her non-eater father (a touching André Holland) watched over her, taking her from city to city across the United States, probably leaving a bloody trail in his wake. But at the beginning of the film he leaves her, leaving her some cash and an audio message explaining that he can no longer take care of her. From now on she has to take care of the matter herself.

Taylor Russell, left, as Maren and Timothée Chalamet as Lee in "bones and all."

Taylor Russell (left) as Maren and Timothée Chalamet as Lee in Bones and All.

(Yannis Drakoulidis / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures)

Forced to be on the run, always looking for a place to stay, her next meal, and some concrete answers about her past, Maren soon meets Sully (a terrifying Mark Rylance), a rather helpful guide who shows up one dark night and teaches her quite a few things, including the crucial ability to sniff out blackheads. That leads her to a much happier encounter with another teenage drifter, Lee, played with rumpled charm and ultra-ripped Timothée Chamalet jeans. This is where the romance kicks in, turning Bones and All into a love story with melancholic nuances of Badlands and Bonnie and Clyde, albeit with the presence of Chalamet – and Michael Stuhlbarg for short – the film also keeps threatening to “Call.” to become Me by Your Nom Nom.

It does and it doesn’t. Maren and Lee’s bond, touching as it is, does not touch on the same chords of operatic sentiment as Guadagnino’s earlier romances. These have been settled in houses of enviable wealth and privilege, while Maren and Lee, always struggling to find food and survive, taking refuge in run-down apartments and cornfields in the middle of nowhere. But food is what ultimately unites “Bones and All” with “I Am Love” and “Call Me by Your Name”: an intuitive, often rapturous fusion of food and sex, an exuberant delight in the body’s many intricate desires . (Hell, even “Suspiria” has that weird chicken wing bit.)

The high gore factor — the carnage is never gratuitous, but it’s a given — made Bones and All a refreshingly unconventional choice for Telluride, not a festival known for programming Grand Guignol extravagance. (Guadagnino’s film first premiered at the Venice International Film Festival; it will hit theaters on November 23 via MGM and United Artists.) For a far less gruesome but equally chilling and moving tale of love and hunger, the Telluride- Audiences also slam the riveting mysteries of “The Wonder,” a 19th-century Irish goth from Chilean director Sebastián Lelio (“Gloria Bell,” “A Fantastic Woman”). Slated for release by Netflix later this year, it’s also the better, if less headline-grabbing, of Florence Pugh’s two films premiering this season. (Full disclosure: Lelio and I served on a festival jury together in 2019. If you must, take the following with several flakes of coarse Irish sea salt.)

The miracle in this story, adapted by Emma Donoghue, Lelio and Alice Birch from Donoghue’s 2016 novel, is a young girl named Anna (a magnificent Kíla Lord Cassidy) who managed to go four months without food and only herself to feed on what she needs “manna from heaven.” An English nurse, Lib Wright (Pugh), is invited to observe Anna for 14 days and make sure no food is secretly passed to her by her parents. Your discoveries will either confirm or disprove this potential miracle. As Lib gradually forms a bond with Anna, The Wonder becomes a story not only about science and the supernatural, but also about the distance that investigation requires and the compassion that Lib’s care requires.

Emma Corrin and Jack O'Connell in the film "Lady Chatterley's lover."

Emma Corrin and Jack O’Connell in the film Lady Chatterley’s Lover.


Mercifully, despite the superficial evocations of the story of The Exorcist and other religious horror stories, Pugh’s character is not one of those arrogant skeptics who are pushed into a state of awe-inspiring faith by a rousing soundtrack and big special effects budget. (This film has no interest in bending over backwards to own the Lib.) Rather, Lelio and his co-writers have made a clever, subtle discourse on the need for both skepticism and Faith, with a particularly strong understanding of the uses and abuses of religion. (The film would do an intriguing double-bill with Disobedience, Lelio’s underrated 2018 drama about a lesbian romance that rocks an orthodox Jewish community.)

As its Brechtian magic trick framework makes clear, The Wonder understands storytelling itself as an act of belief – on the part of the storyteller and his audience. It’s also a film that, for all its focus on asceticism and its abundance of bleak weather and somber shadows, acknowledges the good human appetite and the pleasures with which it can be satiated. In marked contrast to her young patient, Lib is often shown eating at the house where she lives – savoring every last bite. She’s also shown experiencing and embracing a rush of sexual desire, an act that feels like an empowering rejection of the cold, harshly moralistic world she’s stepped into.

This gives The Wonder a sort of tie-in with another Netflix title, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a solid, compelling re-adaptation of the long-running hit DH Lawrence. One of the best recent iterations of this story (despite being from an earlier version of Lawrence’s book) was Pascale Ferran’s wonderful French-language Lady Chatterley (2007); This latest retelling, although performed in English, is by another French filmmaker, Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre. Her eye for natural landscapes – first seen in her 2019 feature debut The Mustang – comes to the fore on the grounds of the Wragby estate, where Lady Chatterley (Emma Corrin) and the handsome gamekeeper (Jack O’Connell), the of was hired by her war-injured husband (Matthew Duckett).

While preserving the essential details of an often-told story, de Clermont-Tonnerre portrays Lawrence’s feminism and class anger with a welcome frankness that occasionally translates into overly emphatic dialogue. But as with any decent reinterpretation of this story, the emotional and sensual power of the central romance makes language irrelevant, save for body language. For more context, refer you to the gentleman who sat behind me at another Telluride screening, loudly recapitulating the film’s sex scenes to his companions and everyone within earshot, and giving effusive appreciation to Corrin and O’Connell’s arrival. the rain nude scene, while the film itself is dismissed as high-profile Skinemax fodder. I’d say it does this lively and intelligent film a disservice, but as you’ll discover at any film festival, there’s no accounting for taste. Telluride Film Festival reviews: ‘Bones & All,’ ‘The Wonder,’ ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’

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