Luca Guadagnino’s “Bones and All” is about an eighteen-year-old who embarks on a journey to find her mother and comes across love, friendship, danger, and, well, a lot of blood and flesh. A quirky love story, “Bones and All,” is cinematically mesmerizing and almost poetic, but the dialogue gets a little too pretentious at certain parts. Set in the 1980s, Maren Yearly (Taylor Russell) lived with her father, Frank, in Virginia. She sneaked out of the trailer to go spend the night at her friend’s house. And for the first time, the audience witnesses Maren giving in to her cannibalistic desire. There was a palpable attraction between the predator and the victim. The affection turned into a desire to consume sooner than expected. Looking at his daughter’s blood-stained face was not new for Frank. He had traveled all across the country trying to get away from the sins of his daughter. They packed their belongings and left for Maryland. Her father left her as soon as she turned 18. He could no longer cover her mistakes; he was tired of running away, and he believed that she needed to figure out her life alone. He left her birth certificate on the table, which had the name of her mother—the woman who abandoned her when she was an infant. She now had a purpose for leaving; she decided she was going to find her mother. Thus began Maren’s journey to find her mother, and in the process, she came to terms with who she was.
‘Bones And All’ Plot Summary: What Happens In The Film?
During her quest to meet her mother, Maren decides to travel to Columbia, Ohio. She listened to the tape left by her father, in which he discussed in detail her cannibalistic journey. At the age of three, Maren chewed on her babysitter. When Frank returned home, he saw his toddler’s face covered in blood and a portion of the babysitter’s ear in her tiny mouth. Even though Frank realized that his baby was a predator, as a father, he was thankful that the babysitter was not wearing earrings that could have choked baby Maren. It was tough for Maren to listen to her bloody past. All her life, she tried to get away and forget about her mistakes, but now she was forced to remember and understand her unspeakable urge.
Maren met a strange old man after reaching Columbia. He claimed to have smelled her from a distance. He, too, was an eater. This was the first time Maren came across someone else who experienced the same urge that she did. She initially doubted Sully’s intentions, but he promised that it was against his principles to eat an eater. He added that he preferred not killing the people he fed on. He could smell death setting in on a person from a distance, and he waited for the body to die of a natural cause. He invited Maren to a house where an old woman was left to die on the floor. She was gasping for air, and by morning, her body had given up. Maren had controlled her urge, and she wanted to believe that she could have power over her desire. But Sully spoke from experience that the older she would get, the more bodies she would want. He offered to share the body with her, and after overcoming her moral dilemma, she was convinced that this was the best way to consume. She and Sully gorged on the meat while the camera focused on the framed pictures of the victim. She was a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. But her human life and the relationships she had built had become non-existent. After her death, she was reduced to a piece of meat; her body was now devoured by two cannibals. Her family would make desperate calls hoping to hear her voice, and they would break down after coming across her dissected body. By focusing on the photographs instead of the body, we get the chance to know the victim.
After feeding on the body, Sully and Maren sat at the dining table as he showed her his collection of his victims’ hair. He had braided the hair of each of his victims, which resulted in a long, continuous braid. He disclosed that his first victim was his grandfather, though his mother protected him by blaming the accident on animals. He later left his house, and no one cared to look for him. He had been alone since then, but he offered his friendship to Maren, promising to teach her important lessons about a cannibal’s life. But Maren sensed trouble; she found Sully a little too creepy to spend time with. He was an old man who spoke about himself in the third person and was trying to befriend an eighteen-year-old. Maren escaped from the house and hopped on a bus to Indiana. She preferred navigating her life alone rather than with a strange old man. Though she soon met Lee, and her life changed forever.
See More: ‘Bones And All’ And The Examination Of Abandonment, Emotional Attachment, & Identity
Did Maren Find Her Mother? Why Did Maren Leave Lee?
Maren met Lee while shoplifting at a store in Indiana. He smelled like her, and she was impressed when he stood up for a woman who was harassed by a man. He took the fight outside the store, and the next thing we knew, he was covered in blood. Lee knew Maren was an eater, and he offered to let her consume the remaining bits he had left. Maren wanted to be with him; she sensed that he would not harm her. Lee was reluctant to become friends at first, but eventually, he allowed her to tag along with him. He agreed to help Maren reach Minnesota to find her mother. Lee had left his house when he was seventeen, and he preferred being alone. His only contact was his sister, Kayla, and he was driving to Kentucky to meet her. While he mentioned his mother and sister, he refrained from discussing his father—an indication of a past he wanted to forget. Kayla did not know the truth about her brother. She nagged him about not being by her side, but Lee could not risk living in his hometown. They stayed at his aunt’s house after reaching Kentucky. She found pictures of him when he was a little boy, a time when he was still oblivious to the person, he would grow up to be.
On their way to Minnesota, they came across a pair of eaters, and they shared with them the pleasure of consuming an entire body, bones and all. Maren could not accept that one of the two men, Jack, killed people even though he was not an eater. He consumed humans for pleasure, and not because of the unstoppable need that they experienced. They drove away from the eccentric couple and ultimately reached the house of Barbara Kerns, Maren’s grandmother. She initially wanted Maren to believe that her mother was dead, but she later disclosed that she was hospitalized. Maren realized that her mother was an Eater, all the more reason for her to meet her and discuss her condition. But meeting her mother, Janelle, was terrifying. She had chewed on her hands, perhaps to stop herself from committing murders. She was heavily medicated to keep her from exhibiting aggressive behavior and could barely speak. The nurse handed Maren a letter that her mother had written to her fifteen years earlier. She assumed that if her daughter ever tried to contact her, it must be because her father had revealed her identity. She knew that her daughter would demand answers from her because she grew up to be an Eater just like her, but she had only one piece of advice for her—she asked Maren to die. She even attempted to choke her, but the nurse managed to control the situation, and Maren escaped from the hospital. She concluded that her mother was truly mentally unstable. Instead of being there for her daughter and making her life a little easier as a cannibal, she chose to run away. Maren was disappointed, but at the same time, she refused to become like her.
Maren realized that she did not want to be with Lee because she did not agree with his methods. Before reaching Minnesota, they consumed a body when Maren stated that she was hungry. Lee lured a man working at a local fair and slit his throat while making out with him. After they consumed him, they planned to stay at his place for the night, but after reaching his house, they realized that he was a married man with a newborn baby. Maren cursed herself and Lee for not finding out about his family before murdering him. She felt guilty for destroying a family, and she could not forgive Lee for doing it. Lee explained that he did not know that he was married. Maren struggled to accept who she was, which is why she could not tolerate Lee’s explanation. She knew what they did was wrong, and she wanted to be better than what they were, but could there ever be a way to become a good cannibal? Maren left Lee and decided to figure out what she wanted from life. But she was soon stopped by an old acquaintance, Sully. He offered to have Maren join him in his van, but she declined. She blatantly stated that she found his intentions with her questionable and was not ready to accompany him. He had been obsessively following her all along, craving her company. Upon being rejected, he cursed her for leaving his wish unfulfilled, and he left.
‘Bones And All’ Ending Explained: Did Maren And Lee Get Back Together? What Happened To Sully?
Lee struggled to cope with Maren’s absence; he stayed in his hometown in the hopes that she would one day return looking for him. After a month, Maren reached Kentucky, and she found out about Lee from Kayla. During their conversation, Kayla discussed the reason why Lee left home. He was accused of killing his father when the police found him drenched in blood. But he was left free after the blood on his body was found to be his own. Their father was abusive and would often torture Kayla and Lee. He wanted to protect Kayla and tried to defend her. When she left to get the cops, he managed to scare their father, and he left his car. But their father was never found after the incident, and Lee decided not to stay in his hometown. Maren found Lee at the lakeside, and they decided to travel to the West together and live out of a camp.
Finding each other in the vastness of the country and being in love was a dream that Eaters like them were forbidden to imagine. They decided to travel as far as their car would take them, as they were simply content being together. During their travel to the West, Maren asked Lee about his father. While he was hesitant at first, he trusted Maren enough to share the truth with her. His father was an Eater and had tried to feed on Lee. Lee brought him under his control after bashing his head with an ashtray. He duct-taped his entire face and only left his nostrils out to breathe. He drove his father to an abandoned yard nearby and left him there for three days. After he was released from prison, he traveled to the yard and devoured his father’s body. He felt a rush that he had never experienced before. He wanted to end his life knowing the person he had become, but he could not do it because of Kayla. Maren sympathized with Lee; she understood what it was like to live with the guilt. She had been living all her life wanting to end her existence, but now she had a reason to live; she had Lee by her side. Someone to love and grow old with.
Their love for each other compelled them to want to live the life of a normal couple. Maren got a job at a bookstore in Ann Arbor, and they were happily living together. But their happiness was short-lived. One afternoon, Maren entered the house and noticed Sully’s satchel. He grabbed hold of her from behind and pushed her onto the bed. He had been following her all along. Even after she rejected his offer, he could not get over her. He believed he had unfinished business with her because she knew his truth. Maren tried to calm him down by reassuring him that she would not disclose his truth to anyone else, but he intended to end her life. She reminded him of how he refrained from murdering Eaters, but it seemed that was just a lie he told to get close to her. He was desperate to find a companion, and after coming across Maren, he believed he would be able to groom her. But he was left disappointed, especially knowing how Maren was in love with Lee. He wanted to murder Lee. As he was busy talking to Maren, Lee pulled a plastic bag over his face. They managed to suffocate Sully, but during the scuffle, Sully injured Lee with his knife. As Sully was gasping for air, Maren slashed open his body and pulled his organs out. While Maren was relieved to watch Sully die, she soon noticed that Lee was injured in his lungs. Not only that but inside Sully’s satchel was Kayla’s hair; he killed the person Lee cherished the most. Maren wanted to take Lee to the hospital, but he was ready to die. He begged Maren to eat him, bones and all.
Lee wanted Maren to have that life-changing experience while consuming his body. Feeding on his body was the ultimate act of love for the couple. It was his way of living inside of her that resulted in the physical unification of the two bodies. If we consider Greek mythology and the curse of Zeus, then the idea is to spend one’s whole life trying to find their other half (soulmate). By consuming Lee, the lovers were now part of the same body and were finally one whole self. At the end of “Bones and All,” we come across a clean room, the same room that was once covered in blood. All that is left behind is Lee’s necklace under the bed. We can assume that Maren left the house and now lives the life of a nomad cannibal. Though life without the physical presence of the person she loved will not be easy for her. The only question Lee asked before dying was whether he was a bad person since it was never easy for them to justify their acts based on human morality. The Eaters had their own way of navigating human morality; some did not care about the concept of good and evil, while others tried their best to become considerate cannibals. Maybe that is a question Maren will never be able to answer for herself.
“Bones and All” is a Drama Romance film directed by Luca Guadagnino.