08 19 Oct '24

Young Critics Review: Bones and All (Arta Barzanji)

Bones and all 2
Review 20 Oct 2022
During the Young Critics Workshop (in collaboration with Cinea and the online film magazine photogénie) at Film Fest Gent, five aspiring film critics (ages between 18 and 26) from Belgium and from abroad write reviews and essays on our festival films.

Bones and All

Can you smell it? You could if you were sufficiently interested in human flesh, according to Luca Guadagnino’s Bones and All. It’s a coming-of-age film infected with cannibalism of the hereditary variety. Undeterred by this, the film retains all the expected genre trappings: journey of self-discovery, complicated family relations, and of course, a meet-cute. Taylor Russell’s skittish Maren is abandoned by her dad shortly after she turns 18, following an instance of indiscretion (biting off her friend’s finger). Aided only by her birth certificate and a cassette containing convenient backstory from her father, Maren sets out to find her long-lost mother. She meets other cannibals during her journey, including Timothée Chalamet’s streetwise Lee. Unsurprisingly, the two quickly fall in love.

"By now, you should be able to smell it too. It’s the nauseating stench of the rotten corpse of a film, a nasty sight to behold, bones and all."

In fact, there’s very little in Bones and All that would surprise any viewer, other than the copious number of lazy clichés that constitute the film. In a pivotal moment, set in a scenic meadow, Lee finally opens up to Maren, telling her about when he made a feast of his alcoholic dad a few years ago, following a fight. She responds “I would have done the same. You protected the people you love.” The sappy music reaches a crescendo as the heroine continues: “All I know is I love you!” This scene incapsulates the central dilemma of the characters: coming to terms with your true self, while being a born-cannibal. A seemingly impossible predicament which the film conveniently tosses aside following an upbeat montage. By now, you should be able to smell it too. It’s the nauseating stench of the rotten corpse of a film, a nasty sight to behold, bones and all.


Arta Barzanji

I’m an Iranian cinephile, writer, filmmaker, and a current MFA candidate in Film and Media Arts at Temple University. My work, encompassing experimental, narrative, and documentary modes, deals directly with the cinema itself, exploring the relationship between the viewer and the screen while engaging with the works of filmmakers as diverse as Stan Brakhage, Orson Welles, Kamran Shirdel, and Malcolm Le Grice. My critical writings and translations have appeared both in Farsi and English in publications like photogénie, Filmkhaneh, and Film Matters, focusing on filmmakers such as Sohrab Shahid Saless and Straub-Huillet among others.

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