Luca Guadagnino: It’s not the cannibalism, it’s the desire

When Luca Guadagnino encountered the isolated, searching outcasts at the heart of Bones and All in Dave Kajganich’s screenplay based on Camille DeAngelis’ novel, the Italian filmmaker recalled a quote from philosopher György Lukács that he had long loved. “It was more or less saying that to be human is to be alone,” Guadagnino recalls. “At the end of the day, it’s about people being alone in the void, the void of life, of experience. There’s something almost fairytale-like about it.”

While sipping a cup of tea on the patio of a Beverly Hills hotel, Guadagnino compares his film’s protagonist, Maren, a teenage girl on the run played by Taylor Russell, to Little Red Riding Hood, “left alone, not knowing why she was left alone , and having to discover themselves as they discover the larger world, the forests of America.”

And yet Maren is not dissimilar to the wolf in this fairy tale, because she has a terrible appetite. It is to the credit of this emotionally-minded director, however, that he saw something in the 1980s set Bones and All, built around a road trip across America, that was not driven by horror in its hunger and fear, but calmly human. “As always with the surprises that life throws at you, you could make a very tender film, a very tender fable about the impossibility of one’s nature, and make it the story of people who are eaters. cannibals.”

Maren and Lee, played by Timothée Chalamet, are outlaw lovers in a film lineage dating back to Bonnie and Clyde and Badlands, and Guadagnino believes our attraction to such stories has to do with love itself. “We are outlaws in the moment when we are driven by our desires,” he says. “Loving someone is a dangerous thing. Love is scandal.”

In that case, just add blood, something Guadagnino is no stranger to, from his brief appearance in his “Call Me By Your Name” (a humiliating nosebleed) to his operatic crowds in “Suspiria.” This time, however, it was about the everyday reality of his characters, as in a scene after the festival. “They’re completely bloodied for doing this, and they’re having this conversation about who they are,” says Guadagnino. “It’s very mundane and very open.”

Shooting in America was new for Guadagnino. Though he says his own imagery was “forged” in American cinema, art and music videos, he understood the baggage of European directors telling stories set in the United States. He didn’t want to fetishize or judge America as an outsider. “It took me 50 to feel the maturity I needed to find an intimacy with the landscape, not a distance,” he says. “That arrogance of ‘I’ll show you who you are’, I don’t care.”

The journey of an Italian in America also informs Guadagnino’s documentary “Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams”, released this year, an interview-packed chronicle of the conquest of silent-era Hollywood by legendary shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo and later from Florence. the fashion world. What Guadagnino found most fascinating was how Ferragamo’s time in America taught him inventions.

Timothée Chalamet as Lee and Taylor Russell as Maren are sitting in a field in "bones and all."

Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell star in Bones and All.

(Yannis Drakoulidis / Metro Goldwyn Mayer)

“[Martin] Scorsese talks about this in the film, the reinvention of the self in America,” says Guadagnino. “[Ferragamo] felt he had to give his American customers the dream of Italy.” The move to Florence was as much a selling point as it was a Renaissance capital, says the director. “He could create it as an imaginary world to act out his idea of ​​Italy. He invented “Made in Italy”. Of course, it was all about the quality of the craft, but he was constantly inventing worlds through the idea of ​​craft. A complete and absolute visionary.”

Guadagnino himself is not a craftsman. He needed Bones and All to not only conjure up his time but to feel like he was in the 80s, so he shot on 35mm with its precious canvas of grain and depth, rather than digital cameras that favor flat hyper-reality. “Cinema is organic and works on the plane of light, not digital data, it’s about contradictions,” says Guadagnino. “It’s about the space of light and dark, the texture of things. The idea of ​​equality, of homogenization, comes with the digital. Because everything looks the same. It avoids the possibility of reality, since reality is the battlefield on which we must fight for our ideas.”

With his sensory approach to character studies, often favoring stories from earlier eras, is Guadagnino a filmmaker from another era caught in the 21st century? He takes the question as a compliment. “I don’t know, I don’t know,” he says. “I hope my work can address the fears of today, and I believe that the form cinema took between the 1950s and 1970s is quite unprecedented. But I’m not nostalgic. I’m not one of those who say cinema is dead.” Luca Guadagnino: It’s not the cannibalism, it’s the desire

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