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What (or Who) Is Bones and All Cooking Up?

Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet play young lovers mutually bonded by … cannibalism? Photo: Yannis Drakoulidis/MGM

Bones and All is getting more fleshed out by the day. When the movie was first announced in January 2021, it felt like Luca Guadagnino, the Italian auteur behind Call Me by Your Name, was trolling us. It seemed as though there were far too many cannibal news stories, and by that we mean the one big one wherein CMBYN leading man Armie Hammer was accused of being a cannibal, among other allegations of misconduct and sexual assault. But Bones and All, a movie about teenage cannibals in love, is real and happening, though Guadagnino didn’t see the connection originally. “Any link [of the movie] with anything else exists only in the realm of social media, with which I do not engage,” he told Deadline when asked about the Hammer situation.

However bad the timing is for Hammer’s new career in time-shares, though, the film marches along anchored by the promise of the other Guadagnino leading man, Timothée Chalamet’s sharp cheekbones and deep-set eyes. The hunger for Bones and All continues to grow with new photos and a Venice Film Festival premiere. Then, Timothée Chalamet promoted the film with a series of weird, bones-related tweets, right before the teaser trailer dropped. The first trailer doubles down on the gore and the romance — it’s a bloody feast for the eyes stuffed with tender lust and the ineffable freedom of the open road. And murder with blunt objects. Below, all the cast, plot, and release-date information we know so far. Grab a bite of the trailer.

What happens in the Bones and All trailer?

With all the speculation about what a “cannibal love story” would be like, the question of “What’s the vibe?” is vital. A teaser trailer dropped August 10, and so far the answer is that it’s weird. Even with the full trailer, which dropped September 29, we don’t get much plot detail, but we do get a lot of blood and longing stares.

“You don’t think I’m a bad person?” Chalamet asks. “All I think is that I love you,” Taylor Russell responds, interspersed with clips of Mark Rylance doing intense eye acting. The trailer doubles down on the idea that this is a love story full of menacing characters.

Who agreed to be in this thing?

Call Me by Your Name breakout star Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell have strapped in for the ride. Russell plays Maren, a young woman getting used to the margins of society when she first encounters Chalamet’s Lee. She is known for her transcendent performance in Trey Edward Shults’s indie melodrama Waves, which earned the actor a Gotham Award. Guadagnino is positively effusive about his two leads. “We met, and as always it was so profoundly inspiring to talk to him because he’s so clever and has such a specific point of view on things,” he says of casting Chalamet to Deadline. Of casting Russell, he says, “I asked her agent, Danie Streisand, to set up a Zoom, and we talked for a while. I might remember half an hour, maybe she’d tell you it was ten minutes. I don’t know. But it was, for me, incredibly deep, and very beautiful and intense.”

Chalamet, for his part, booked this role knowing that in the six years since he filmed CMBYN, he’s grown enough as an actor to really have a say about his character. “It excited me, because it felt like it was very different than the first project we had done together,” A24’s resident heartthrob told Variety. “It excited me, too, because I felt the bones of Lee — no pun intended — were there, but there was a lack of direction.” Guadagnino encouraged the actor to work with screenwriter David Kajganich to fine-tune his role.

Hollywood’s most glamorous up-and-coming actor (I’m talking about Russell, who’s worn Schiaparelli, Loewe, and Alexander McQueen doing promo on the carpet) said she immediately had a deep understanding of her character. “What struck me about her initially is that she’s this kind of creature who feels like there’s something off with her, like a picture frame that’s slanted,” Russell said about her character in that same interview with Variety. “And I wanted to work through that exercise of ‘If there is something inherently wrong with me, is there a way to break through that?’”

The supporting cast includes cross-generational New York “It” girl Chloë Sevigny and the chameleonic André Holland, most known for his roles in Moonlight and Passing. David Gordon-Green, Jessica Harper, Jake Horowitz, and Mark Rylance have also signed on.

These bumper stickers … Photo: Yannis Drakoulidis/MGM

Is the movie really about teenage cannibals?

Yes. This is a (cannibal) love story. But this isn’t a bittersweet, peach-flavored, first taste of pining set in rich people’s Italian country homes. Bones and All, adapted from the Camille DeAngelis novel of the same name, follows a pair of young wanderers as they fall in love in a world that looks down on their tendency to eat human flesh. It’s also in the grand tradition of American road movies, where the characters journey a thousand miles across Reagan’s America to run away from their “terrifying” pasts (so says the film’s logline!). Guadagnino reunites with his longtime screenwriting collaborator David Kajganich for the script. “With Bones and All, I wasn’t interested at all in the shock value, which I hate,” he later said about the potentially shocking elements to Deadline. “I was interested in these people. I understood their moral struggle very deeply. I understood what was happening to them. I am not there to judge anybody. You can make a movie about cannibals if you’re there in the struggle with them, and you’re not codifying cannibalism as a topic or a tool for horror.”

“There is something about the disenfranchised, about people living on the margins of society, that I am drawn toward and touched by,” Guadagnino said in a statement. “I want to see where the possibilities lie for them, enmeshed within the impossibility they face. The movie is for me a meditation on who I am and how I can overcome what I feel, especially if it is something I cannot control in myself. And lastly, and most importantly, when will I be able to find myself in the gaze of the other?” To put it simply, the director approached Bones and All as a universal love story. “This was a romantic movie about looking for possibility in the impossibility,” he told Jezebel.

Fear not, faint of stomach. What Li’l Timmy Tim and Taylor Russell actually ate was a little sweeter than human flesh. Well, maybe human flesh is sweet … we’ve never tasted it. “I remember the incredible effects team and the team who were handling all of that sort of stuff told me that it was maraschino cherries, dark chocolate, and Fruit Roll-Ups,” Russell said in an interview with /Film. “If that sounds good to you, cool. If it doesn’t, fair enough. But it was very sweet and [tastier] than anything else maybe you could imagine.” That does make watching a young girl positively chomp another girl’s hand in that trailer a little easier.

Luca Guadagnino getting the magic-hour shot. Photo: Yannis Drakoulidis/MGM

When will Bones and All be released?

The movie will premiere at the Venice Film Festival out of competition before it hits select cinemas on November 18 and everywhere else on November 23, just in time for Thanksgiving. I do not recommend cooking up human parts for your Turkey Day meal to celebrate the release of the film. But do you.

This post has been updated.

What (or Who) Is Bones and All Cooking Up?