On paper, it’s easy to guess what attracted Luca Guadagnino to lead bones and all. The film, which follows a couple of young cannibals on a journey through the heartland of the United States, marries the genres of horror and romance that the filmmaker is uniquely familiar with. But as Guadagnino explains, “That’s not how I see cinema. I’ve never really been very impressed with the idea of making genre films.”
bones and all follows Maren (Taylor Russell) and Lee (Timothée Chalamet), so-called “eaters” who share each other’s loneliness and hunger. The film not only reunites Guadagnino and Chalamet for the first time since they made call me by your name in 2017, but it is also adapted from the 2015 novel of the same name by the screenwriter David Kajganitchwith whom Guadagnino collaborated in 2016 A bigger splash and 2018 Suspiria.
“I wanted to tell the story of a couple of disenfranchised children lost in America,” says the director. “In this journey, these characters have to face many difficulties. Most of them come from within themselves.”
The film, notably, marks the first time the Italian director, who received a Best Picture nomination in 2018 for call me by your name, directed a film that is set and shot in the United States. In this spirit, he referred to the photograph of William Eggleston to paint his portrait of rural America in the 1980s. “Through his lens, Eggleston was able to capture the desolation, sudden beauty and humanism of America,” he shares. And then came the cannibalism.
Whereas bones and all unafraid of Maren and Lee’s appetites for human flesh, it lacks the same kind of shocking body horror found in Dario Argento’s 2018 remake of Guadagnino Suspiria. For Guadagnino, it was wanted. “I didn’t see it as a movie driven by that concept of horror. I wasn’t interested in anything for the shock value, that’s for sure,” he explains.
“I’m drawn to characters and settings, and the kind of stories that can be larger than life,” the filmmaker offers. “By that I mean stories that allow you to see something in them that can be very particular but also universal.”
Below, Guadagnino shares with A.frame the five films he finds most inspiring.