Would you agree if I said that cinema, as a medium, is the strongest one that an artist can use for their expression? Because how else would you make sense out of the existence of something like director Jack James’ Wild Bones? I hope you are here after experiencing this fever dream of a movie. You should understand what I am talking about. There can be two ways Wild Bones can be described. One of those is that the movie is a manifestation of someone’s personal trauma. That someone could be the director himself, or maybe someone close to him. The other would be the director drawing inspiration from the worlds of auteurs like David Lynch or Peter Strickland and presenting a grim tale of his own in an intentionally erratic, non-linear manner.
As you would expect from movies of this kind, the narrative takes a backseat here. There is a heavy reliance on audio-visual storytelling, where both striking images and different kinds of cryptic sounds work together to move the plot forward. How you perceive it is up to you, but if you look for a conventional story and a proper conclusion, then you will most likely be disappointed. Wild Bones takes it upon itself to see things from the perspective of a woman on the verge of losing it. The entire thing is seen as she experiences it, which justifies the treatment. It is both fascinating and frustrating to watch, if I have to be absolutely honest. A conventional explanation of the story and the ending is nearly impossible, but we are still going to take a crack at it.
Plot Synopsis: What Happens In ‘Wild Bones’?
On the surface, the main plot comes off as quite simple. Fae lives alone in an intimidating house, located in the middle of nowhere with heavy snow all around. As a child, Fay was very close to her father. But her father suddenly disappeared, which scarred her forever. Now we don’t know what exactly happened to Fay’s father or at what point he went away. We are not even sure if he is alive or not. What we see here is Fay’s stepsister Alice going to see her regarding their father leaving the two of them at his house. While Fay seems cold and distant to Alice, the younger sister seems like someone who genuinely cares for Fay. We eventually realize that Fay is battling her own demons inside her head, as she is suffering from some kind of childhood trauma. Alice tries to be as sensitive as possible to Fay, who gradually seems to be warming up to her.
Fay is also introduced to a man named Gary, who is a friend of Alice. While it initially seems like Gary and Alice might be in a romantic relationship, Fay and Gary soon grow closer, and they start a relationship. However, Gary reveals that he was intimate with Alice in the past, which doesn’t seem to bother Fay that much. While Fay and Gary’s relationship seems stable enough, Alice vocally disapproves of it. Upon hearing Fay has asked Gary to move in with her, Alice gets really concerned about her sister. She keeps stressing about Gary not being a good man, but Fae keeps ignoring her sister.
‘Wild Bones’ Ending, Explained: What Happens To Fae?
Even though Wild Bones mostly delves into what is going on inside Fay’s head without actively telling the audience, the strongest aspect of the movie has to be the scenes where Fay is having regular conversation with the other characters: Alice, Gary, and Candace, who happens to be Alice’s mother and Fay’s stepmother. Proving Alice right, Gary turns out to be a dishonest man who was hiding the fact that he has another family from Fay. Naturally, Fay breaks up with Gary and becomes even more distraught. Upon Alice’s repeated requests, she decides to go to the house and meet Candace.
Now, here’s the thing: Wild Bones, throughout its entire runtime, raises a lot of questions and doubts. But it doesn’t make any attempt to answer or resolve those. Because it is clearly more about how a troubled person’s weary mind works than providing the audience any kind of closure. In fact, I suspect the director intentionally made Wild Bones in such a way that the audience keeps going over it in their heads for a long time.
One of the primary aspects of Wild Bones is what happened to Fay when she was a child. Although the character keeps insisting that her stepmother, Candace, used to physically abuse her, which ranged from curving her arms and legs to the extent that she almost broke her bones to poking her skin with burning cigarette butts, However, there is also an implication that Fay’s memory can’t be trusted, as both Alice and Candace mention many times that it was probably Fay’s father who was her abuser. There are scenes where Fay hallucinates a shadowy figure with a burning cigarette in hand, who seems more like a man than a woman. However, it is entirely possible that Alice and Candace are manipulating Fay and feeding her anxious mind with lies, although it never really seems like Alice has anything but love and respect for her elder sister,
Upon reaching their old house, Fay has a confrontation with her stepmother. While things get out of hand and we witness a lot of screaming (which again might well be the figments of Fay’s imagination), Candace maintains her stance about her desire being only to help Fay and save her from her father. She also accuses Fay of having the same toxic character traits as her father. After coming back to her home, a tired and lonely Fay has another of her episodes with no one around to take care of her. We see her lying down on the floor with a piece of sharp glass in hand, her face completely bloodied. Does that mean Fay killed herself because she couldn’t take it anymore? Well, that is a possibility. But it might as well be a vivid representation of how Fay really feels inside her head. We will never know for sure, but that is where the success of Wild Bones lies.