Luca Guadagnino and the teenage cannibals of Bones and All: “It’s above all a love story”

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Self Luca Guadagnino worked on the extremes of both the gory horror genre and the romantic and tender one, it can be said that the latest film of the Oscar nominee, Bones and All, is an exciting statement from a holistic director. Focused on two young cannibals (Taylor Russell And Timothée Chalamet) who embark on an odyssey in the Midwest of America in the 1980s, the film is not afraid to depict humans eating other humans, and the rawness and violence that comes with it. And he doesn’t even refrain from feeling: for all the chewing and killing, Bones and All builds around us a surprisingly tender and touching love story.

Working on the adaptation of David Kajganich of the novel by Camille De Angelis, Guadagnino found an unconventional strength. Bones and All premiered in Venice, where the Italian director won the Silver Lion for best direction, his first major award at his country’s festival. The film has since premiered in the United States at Telluride and soon at the New York Film Festival. “Everything becomes public and you see how something you have done intuitively becomes something that people can bring what they hear,” Guadagnino tells me of the trip to the festivals of Bones and All. “This case was a beautiful blessing because despite the violence of the premise, the audience really understood the love that is in the film.”

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I talked to Guadagnino when he landed in New York, about the path of the film so far (from November 23 in Italian cinemas), the state of his other projects, the new actress Taylor Russell and the reunion with Chalamet, after Call Me by Your Name. Below, an exclusive clip of Bones and All.

For starters, I’m curious about his interest in cannibals and whether this film is all about them.
“There are two forces that interest me, as far as cannibalism is concerned, to which all the main characters are forced to defer. One is the instinct they have and how they grow by adapting to it. The young characters oppose it and struggle, challenging each other and challenging themselves with the moral issues of being who they are and trying to escape who they are. Adults, on the other hand, forget the moral struggle they have waged and become more evil and cynical about who they are.

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The other aspect is the legacy of what we leave behind when we disappear and, above all, when we are made to disappear by people who destroy our bodies. I was really interested and involved in the impossibility they were facing and how much they tried to escape from it. In this case, we can respond with EM Forster’s glorious phrase: “Can the leopard change spot?” And at the same time, I was more interested in making myself think and hopefully the audience as well: “What remains when we no longer exist? I think these were the questions, which always return to my usual interest in the possibility within the confines of impossible, which in a certain sense is the practice of utopia. How a film can make the impossible possible “.

The notion of escape is literally manifested here, in the construction of a road movie. It looked like a very Luca road movie.
He laughs.

There are these wild stops along the way, these amazing cameos. What relationship do you have with the road movie, what do you like about the genre and what did you want to bring?
«The road movie, like musicals, horror films and westerns, is one of the genres. The bandit’s woman by Nicholas Ray or even Furore by John Ford. Those are road movies, among the greatest films ever made. A road movie has a narrative propulsion and at the same time, somehow, the unexpected happens in the narrative. It is not possible to predict what will happen next, because the journey will be diverted from what will be encountered along the way. It’s something we discussed a lot with David Kajganich, the screenwriter. The idea of ​​the landscape is also very interesting to me. This is my first film shot in America. I’ve already shot another one in America, Challengers, but this was the first. As an introduction to the American world and scenario for me as a director, the idea of ​​being able to film the captivating beauty of the Midwest was too good an opportunity not to take it on the fly. “

By Yannis Drakoulidis / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures.

A critic noted that this film well blends what can be seen as his interests in horror and romance, in a way his previous films hadn’t. I too have perceived it in a certain sense, and what do you think?
«I hope to have more than two strands. But for me it is as if The exorcist was a family drama: it’s about a woman facing motherhood. That’s how I see that movie. I don’t see it as a gothic tale of possession, which is why Friedkin’s film has stood the test of time forever. To me the horror movies I love are defined by the way they don’t encode the genre’s clichés, but constantly subvert them. I think of John Carpenter, of the great American directors like Jonathan Demme or George Romero.

All the anxieties of the revenge of the right in America have passed through the beautiful films of Romero, from La night of the living dead to Dawn of the Dead. In these films you could really see not only a thrilling and thrilling ride, but also an essay on America. That’s what I like about cinema. That can be more than one thing at a time. For me the horror genre, having been codified by the rules, has lost that touch of magic that used to make me feel. I like the idea that this film is a road movie. It’s a love story, but it’s also a violent story and it’s a violent road movie; eventually it could be perceived as a horror movie by the public. I believe the public has the right to say the last word. But if I have to say mine, this is a love story ».

I wanted to ask you about your two protagonists. Taylor Russell, he had mentioned he had seen her in Waves. You tend to work with the same actors often, how was this new collaboration?
“Taylor is like one of these instruments or organs, so hypersensitive yet so strong. I was in a crystal shop called Lobmeyr in Vienna, and the manufacturer was telling me that this glass was indeed nearly unbreakable and yet it was very thin. He took the glass and hit it hard against the hard surface, but it didn’t break. This is a great metaphor for Taylor. It has this beautiful, transparent, apparent fragility, yet it is so strong. And during the filming of the film she really used the depth of her experience as a woman which was truly amazing. I don’t take it lightly when someone gives this kind of incredible generosity in the act of acting. And when someone is as generous and powerful as Taylor, there is no escape from the power of the emotions that are displayed. “

Timothée Chalamet was another discovery of his, of course. Is there anyone he has his eye on now?
«I can tell you that, as I will meet him soon, I am very interested in Fabien Frankel di House of the Dragon. There is something completely graceful about him and this beautiful physicality that he has ».

Timothée received fame and opportunity thanks to Call me by your name. Now back in this relatively knowledgeable and well-known film. What’s different about him? How was this experience compared to Call me by your name?
“I think when we did Call me by your name, Timothée was almost a kamikaze. She was ready to explode and was ready to go in any direction, with a very strong sense of thrust. When we did Bones and All, I think the intuition was there, but at the same time he brought to the table a lot of wonderful ideas and complexity that added to what was already on the page. You could see, four years later, how the boy had become a man and how intuition became the intellect, but at the same time how he was very happy and eager to be seen by the camera in a completely free way, despite was a world star ».

This is his first film since We are who we are, a series that I loved. But I think it can be said that the series has not been very successful, at least in the United States. How do you rate this kind of experience compared to one like this, which goes to festivals and is successful all over the world? Is it different for you?
“Do you mean if something is received with less broad recognition?”

Of course.
“Yes, it is. Everything I do, they are all my children and I love them all, even if some of them had a difficult childhood. And I have in mind that they have a long career, that they go to university and that they grow up and become people. So I think we’ll see that over time. I am proud of my children and I do not judge any of them by the popularity they have in high school. “

In this regard, his work tends to live in different ways. I know he still talks about the movie Call me by your name and then I see that there is also An Even Bigger Splash which made me personally very happy. What can you tell me about this new film?
«I received a great honor at the Gothenburg Film Festival. They gave me this Lifetime Achievement Award, which embarrasses me to say. I was 50 then. They wanted to do a retrospective of my films and I said: “No, that’s not possible, because I don’t yet have a body of work that can be turned into a retrospective!”. With my editor Walter Fasano, we thought about how we loved the first editing of A Bigger Splash. I’m usually not very sentimental towards the first cuts of my films. But this first cut was something I was very proud of. I called StudioCanal and said: “Guys, I think you should review it and let me show it in Gothenburg as a tribute to the festival”.

They saw it and said, “Oh my God, you’re completely right. We presented it in Gothenburg with no effects, no mixes, nothing. But we knew we were going to finish it so we could re-release it somehow. Now we’re on. about to finalize it. It will take a few months, because we have to do the scans, the effects, the new songs, the new mix, everything. But we’ll do it and then we’ll see what we can do with this record, which will be presented in some festivals and probably in a small festival. Then powerful streamers can have it. I don’t know, we’ll see. But I’m very happy. There were so many things we had to leave on the table at the time and I’m very proud to bring back to life. “

For instance?
“There is an insight into the desire unleashed in the film and the Marianne Lane fandom (played by Tilda Swinton, ed). The opportunity to take him back to a new place and go with them all again is magical. “

Another example of his son growing up.
“Yup. Or maybe a twin ».

Other stories of Vanity Fair that may interest you:

Bones and All: cannibal romance with little pulp

Venice 79, Luca Guadagnino wins the Silver Lion with the romantic cannibals of Bones and All

Source: Vanity Fair

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