Here is a film that will be impossible to leave out of the Lions of Venice 79, also because the applause of the professionals here at the Lido are the applause of those who rediscover themselves as a public, a common spectator who reacts to emotion. “Bones and All”, by Luca Guadagnino, the first of the five Italian films competing for the Golden Lion, has nothing of Italian at all. Indeed, it is the first film by the director of “Call me by your name”, nominated for an Oscar as best film, one hundred percent American. Guadagnino is more loved in the US than in Italy, and in the Midwest he went to shoot this film suggested, starting from his co-screenwriter of “A bigger splash” and “Suspiria”, David Kajganich, based on the novel “Fino all ‘bone ”by Camille De Angelis.
It is a cannibal movie, therefore a horror, technically, with very realistic meals of human flesh. And it’s a road movie, spanning Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Kentucky, Iowa and Minnesota. But in essence it is a romantic ballad that smells of the 70s and brings back the memory of the very first Terrence Malick of “Badlands” (“The young rage”, in Italy), from 1973.
Nothing really new, actually, in the idea. A kind horror of 2008, “Let me in” by Tomas Alfredson, also based on a successful novel, told of a vampire girl forced to move relentlessly with her father when the bodies of the victims were discovered. Here sentenced to err is the eighteen year old Maren (the Canadian Taylor Russell of “Waves” and “Escape Room”), who, invited to a sleepover at a school friend’s house, bitten off the finger of a girl of the same age. Maren’s journey, abandoned by her father who can no longer bear the weight of so much secret, has just begun. On the way he will meet the entire stable of actors dear to Guadagnino, first and foremost Timothée Chalamet, superstar of this decade launched by “Call me by your name”, the Jessica Harper of “Suspiria”, inherited from Dario Argento, Chloè Sevigny, which was already in Guadagnino’s first TV series, “We are who we are”. In addition, a fantastic Oscar actor like Mark Rylance (for Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies”) who leaves an indelible mark on the film.
It is difficult to escape the magic of the film and its characters, who subvert the rules of teen movies by confessing to each other their ‘first time’: the first time that they ate human flesh, and their babysitters made expenses. Typical trait of Guadagnino, who has solid relations with the world of fashion, his hungry boys manage to be elegant even dripping with blood, when they sink their faces into the bowels of some unfortunate. And they are not alone in the world of the ‘normals’: there is a people of different who recognize themselves by smell, which spreads and reacts variously to their own nature, accepting or choosing suicide. Maren’s mother (Chloè Sevigny), whom she has never met and who has traveled across America to track down, has chosen to shut herself up in an asylum and devour her hands up to her wrists.
The horror genre is the place par excellence of metaphors. “Bones and all” speaks of marginalization and loneliness, of the radical malaise of late adolescence, in which you no longer recognize yourself in your fellow men, of a search for identity without landing, of a need for love that is hunger for the other and that it is not enough to satisfy you. Talk about fear of those who look like you: is he an ally or an enemy? And it captures a nostalgic America, of infinite and romantic horizons that no longer exist. It comes out in theaters on November 23rd with Vision Distribution.