Bones and All
starring Taylor Russell, Timothée Chalamet, Mark Rylance, Michael Stuhlbarg
screenplay by David Kajganich, based on the novel by Camille DeAngelis
directed by Luca Guadagnino
by Walter Chaw Luca Guadagnino's Bones and All is every single thing I like packed into one film: a swooning gothic romance; a gory and uncompromising cannibal movie; an American Honey middle-American travelogue; and a vision of first love as a consumptive, Romanticist fire. Shot in dirty sepia tones by DP Arseni Khachaturan (if you've not seen Dea Kulumbegashvili's Beginning, Khachaturan's lensing is one of the dozens of reasons you should remedy that), it has about it an atmosphere at once nostalgic for the 1980s, during which it's set, and aware of how the passage of time memorializes everything into unreliable emotional histories. I have no intellectual mechanism for retrieving memories--it's all about the feel. I realized during one scene that a girl, Kayla (Anna Cobb), was wearing a Cyndi Lauper T-shirt, and the impossible tangle of reactions I had made what might happen to her unbearable to contemplate. She became precious to me in an instant. She is somehow part of my history. (A disgusting person will later wear a Dokken tee, and I had a visceral reaction to that, too.) The picture's needle drops, from Duran Duran's "Save a Prayer" to Joy Division's "Atmosphere" and New Order's propulsive/mesmerizing "Your Silent Face," offer evidence of a creative team who listened to the whole album instead of cherry-picked singles; the music is used as a mnemonic device for oldsters and a gateway drug for their kids. I still remember one doomed summer day in high school that started with my friend picking me up for us to go record shopping, Love and Rockets' fourth album whirring away in his cassette deck, my hand porpoising through the air of my open window--that feeling of being completely alive. So alive. Kate Bush just enjoyed a renaissance--I can only hope the same for Ian Curtis and Bernard Sumner after the Timothée Chalamet hive assimilates this film into their holy doctrine. It's worth appreciating how "Atmosphere" and "Your Silent Face" are both anthems about finding your voice or making a statement through silence (ditto "Lick it Up," off the first KIϟϟ album where they take off their makeup), and so these aren't merely nostalgia triggers. Every element of Bones and All helps to amplify Guadagnino's themes of discovering who you are in the midst of the whirlwind.