From comedies to dramas, there comes a moment when two love interests meet and have their first conversation. The music strikes up as their eyes lock. There is love in their eyes, even if they don’t realize it yet. This is a meet-cute. It is a staple of romantic genres and it’s an unavoidable cliché that can exist in every romantic story. 

But this cliché can be elevated so the audience doesn’t always recognize them. 

Luca Guadagnino’s cannibalistic love story Bones and All has a subtle meet-cute that is emphasized by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s acoustic soundtrack for the film. The neutral meet-cute between Maren (Taylor Russell) and Lee (Timothée Chalamet) is an unspoken understanding of the main characters, and how they come together to complement and support each other throughout their short romance. 

You can watch Guadagnino, Russell, and Chalamet break down the entire scene for Vanity Fair, but I believe there is one shot from the scene that encapsulates all we need to know about the young budding romance to come. 

The Perfect Shot in Bones and All

The scene opens with Maren robbing a small-town convenience store. She finds Lee, another young cannibal shopping at the store, through her ability to smell others who are like her. The two-character exchange glances of understanding as Maren continues to grab the things she needs. 

While this is not the meet-cute of the scene, there is an immediate recognition of each other and an attraction. Whether they act on that instinct is undecided at that moment because those glances are interrupted as a drunk man harasses a woman in the store. 

Maren confronts that man, and the camera switches to frame Maren and Lee together as they both stare at the man in silence. 

How one shot in 'Bones and All' tells us everything we need to know.'Bones and All'Credit: United Artists Releasing

This shot speaks to the dynamic of the relationship before the initial meet-cute happens. 

Maren, who has a stronger moral compass, is in front of Lee, but he is still there and ready to step in when he is needed. The shot’s composition highlights that these two outsiders are united to stand against the world that dismisses them. 

“There is a line, I mean, it’s the two of you against him, which this is the movie,” Guadagnino says about the shot. “The movie is about these two young beautiful lovers who, no matter what their real problem they have within their own nature, they’re still having to fight a lot of challenges and win in order to achieve the impossible.” 

The moment after Maren confronts the man, Lee intervenes and stands with Maren. As Russell says in the breakdown of the scene, this is the first time that anyone has ever stuck up for Maren and has been on her side. 

I believe this single shot, which happens seconds before the two characters lock eyes with each other, holds all the information we need to know about the dynamics of this relationship.

Shot composition matters. How you block actors in the frame can convey so much information to an audience without having to establish that truth through dialogue. It’s a beautifully crafted shot in a movie that has endlessly gorgeous landscape shots of middle America.

The details matter, and how you frame that first meeting between two lovers can shape the dynamic and mythos of that relationship throughout the entire film.

Is there another movie that has one shot to summarize a relationship better than Bones and All? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Vanity Fair