One might be tempted to read the political message about the setting of “Bones and All,” thinking of it as, perhaps, a commentary on the homelessness crisis of the 1980s. One can definitely read cannibalism in film as a metaphor for sexuality; Reagan’s America, as some recall, was notoriously hostile to the gay community. However, when Guadagnino was recently interviewed by iD magazine, he said that the time frame of “Bones and All” was not meant to have any special meaning. The 1980s setting, it seems, is only practical for plot purposes. Or maybe it’s just an aesthetic choice, allowing directors to film an ancient, broken world free from the bustling modern technology. That’s not a comment.
Douglas Greenwood, interviewer for iD, assumed so, and offered Guadagnino the theory that his film was specifically about the AIDS crisis. Greenwood noticed when Guadagnino’s 2017 film “Call Me By Your Name” was set in 1983, and is about a romance between two men who are indifferent to the reality of AIDS. Was “Bone and All” meant to contain such a metaphor? Guadagnino, somewhat comically, bluntly rejects Greenwood’s interpretation.
Is this a metaphor for the AIDS crisis? “No,” said Guadagnino. Not all? “No,” he repeated. When asked if AIDS is in the film, the director diplomatically responded with “If it’s in your film’s vision, then it is.”
It seems to be up to the viewer. For these writers, the era indicated little more than the anonymity of the characters, and the authenticity of the filmmaker’s aesthetic.