Luca Guadagnino (Italy, 1971) debuted with the thriller
The Protagonists (1999), followed by
Melissa P (2005), based on
Melissa Panarello's novel
"100 Colpi di Spazzola prima di Andare a Dormire/ One Hundred Strokes of the Brush Before Bed").
Io Sono l'Amore/ I Am Love (2009) was the first part of the "desire" trilogy. It's a family drama, a bit overlong, about the moral "decadence" of a
Tancredi and his (Russian) wife Emma are preparing their vast mansion to celebrate
the birthday of Tancredi's father Edoardo, the family's patriarch and owner
of the business that made them rich.
Tancredi's and Emma's son Edoardo (named after his grandfather) has lost a competition. He candidly admits that his opponent was better than him. Grandfather
is happy about the defeat because it will allow young Edoardo to focus on
business. Young Edoardo in fact already has a business idea.
Edoardo is also showing up with a girlfriend, Eva.
Edoardo has two siblings: Gianluca and Elisabetta, who is studying art.
The grandfather is proud of his granddaughter Elisabetta's paintings, but this time Elisabetta gifts him a photograph because she has decided to switch to photography.
The grandfather gives a proud speech about the family's business, a textile factory, and announces his retirement. He designates
his son Tancredi as his successor but also his grandson Edoardo explaining
that it will take two men to replace him.
Antonio, a chef, is the one who defeated young Edoardo, and shows up uninvited
with a gift: a cake.
One day Emma is picking up clothes from a dry-cleaning shop and finds a note in
the pocket of a jacket: it's from Elisabetta addressed to Edoardo, and explains
that she's had sex with a girl. Emma is shocked.
Antonio and young Edoardo are planning to open a restaurant together.
Edoardo tells Antonio that he has decided to propose to Eva on her birthday.
Emma, grandmother Rori (Tancredi's mother) and Eva (Edoardo's fiance) have lunch at a restaurant. While eating a dish prepared by chef Antonio, Emma almost has an orgasm. Later Emma thanks Antonio in person.
One day Emma picks up her daughter Elisabetta at the train station. Elisabetta cut her hair short like a boy. Her old boyfriend shows up with a bouquet of flowers but she rudely shuns him. Elisabetta later talks to Emma about her coming art show and shows Emma a photo of her girlfriend Angara. Elisabetta is afraid to tell her father Tancredi.
Elisabetta invites Emma to travel with her to the art show.
Emma drives alone towards the city of the art show, as a surprise,
but along the way she meets Antonio in the town where he lives.
He offers to show her the restaurant and then they make love.
We learn that the grandfather has died.
Edoardo is angry that the factory is now laying off workers, which he thinks goes against the moral principle of his grandfather, but is told that his
grandfather did business with the fascist regime and exploited Jewish workers.
Antonio is now embarrassed to talk with Antonio about their planned restaurant.
We see that the love affair between Antonio and Emma continues (tedious sex scenes).
The film moves to a high-rise building in London where Tancredi is negotiating to sell the business against Edoardo's will.
He takes the opportunity to visit his sister Elisabetta and vents his
disappointment that their father only cares for the money.
Edoardo cries like a baby in the arms of a servant.
Edoardo rides his motorcycle to Antonio's house but nobody is home.
Edoardo notices a lock of his mother's blonde hair.
Antonio and Emma are making love in the woods nearby.
A dinner is organized at the family mansion to celebrate the sale of the family business. We learn that Eva is pregnant with Edoardo's child.
Edoardo finally realizes that his mother is having an affair with Antonio when Antonio serves a special dish from Russia that only his mother knows how to make.
As Emma tries to explain herself (in Russian), Edoardo, repulsed, falls badly and later dies of the injuries.
After the funeral, in the church, Emma declares to her husband Tancredi her love for Antonio.
He coldly replies: "You don't exist".
Emma returns home hysterical and packs her things.
Emma walks out the mansion while her daughter Elisabetta, Edoardo, Eva and grandmother Rori watch her silently.
The chamber quasi-thriller
A Bigger Splash (2015), basically a remake of Jacques Deray’s La Piscine/ The Swimming Pool (1969), is
overlong, especially the first hour in which nothing really happens.
A US couple on vacation in an Italian island are enjoying a sort of earthly paradise, and having a lot of sex. They are staying in a secluded villa with a swimming pool. The woman, Marianne, cannot speak properly. Their idyll is rudely interrupted by their friend Harry, a man full of life, who arrives with his daughter Pen. We learn from flashbacks and conversations that Marianne is a rock star who had surgery at her throat, and Harry was instrumental to her career, and Paul, a filmmaker, was introduced by Harry to Marianne. Paul, who was enjoying the peace, now clearly resents Harry’s volcanic presence. We also learn that Paul tried to kill himself and also was an alcoholic. All of this intrigues Pen, who says she is 22, and she’s otherwise bored by the vacation. It soon becomes apparent that Harry’s real purpose is to steal back Marianne from Paul. She is adamant that she won’t leave Paul, but then has sex with Harry. Meanwhile, Pen seduces Paul during a walk around the island. One night Harry verbally attacks Paul. He’s angry that Paul, who used to be his best friend, now merely “tolerates” him. Paul throws him in the pool. Harry grabs Paul and pulls him into the water. The two fight seriously, and Harry dies. Paul tries to resuscitate Harry but in vain. Paul leaves the corpse in the pool and returns to the bed that he shares with Marianne. In the morning the maid finds the corpse and calls the police. When she sees the body, Marianne shouts as loud as she can. The chief of police summons the trio to the police station. While the cops talk, Pen shouts at them in Italian to be more respectful, revealing that she speaks Italian fluently. While they are waiting in the hall of the police station, Marianne asks Pen whether she noticed Paul's wounds, and Pen confirms. The chief has determined that there was a fight in the pool, but Marianne pretends to be skeptic. The chief tells Marianne that he’s busy with refugees, many of whom drown, and Harry’s case is not a top priority. Marianne explains that anyone can enter the swimming pool area, and implies that she suspects the illegal immigrants. Marianne also learns from the chief that Pen is only 17 and cannot travel without her mother’s approval. Back home, a devastated Paul tells Marianne the truth. While Marianne is being interrogated by the chief, Paul tries in vain to find out whether Pen was by the swimming pool during the fight:
she refuses to answer. A brief flashback shows Marianne and Henry backstage before a concert, arguing. Paul and Marianne drive Pen to the airport. Marianne is angry that Pen didn’t tell them about her age and her Italian. Pen offends her and Marianne slaps her in the face. Pen walks away and starts crying when they cannot see her anymore. Paul and Marianne start driving back to the villa. The chief’s car chases them and stops them… but the chief only wants an autograph from the famous singer.
Chiamami col tuo Nome/ Call Me by Your Name (2017)
We are Who we are (2020) is a television series.
The horror movie
Bones and All (2022) is an adaptation of
Camille DeAngelis' novel "Bones & All" (2015) with a more romantic ending.
It is not clear why the film is set in the 1980s since nothing about the
story is tied to that era.
Even by the standards of slasher movies, this movie features truly disgusting scenes. But then it becomes a love story of sorts.
It also boasts a memorable performance by Mark Rylance.
The film is set in the 1980s.
Maren, a teenage girl, lives with her father in a humble home in a provincial
town. A schoolmate invites Maren to sneak out of her home at night and join
a sleepover with friends. They all get inebriated and, out of the blue, Maren
eats the finger of her friend. Maren rushes back home, blood streaming down her face, and tells her father. Her father doesn't look surprised at all: he curses her for doing it again and tells her to pack in a few minutes before the police come. They leave town and move somewhere else. One day Maren wakes up and finds
that her father has taken off without her. Her father left on the table her birth certificate (which shows where she was born) and a cassette tape that tells the story of how she displayed cannibalistic tendencies ever since she was three: she
murdered and ate her babysitter. Her father wishes her the best but can't take it anymore. Maren decides to travel to her birthplace and track down her mother.
Her father's cassette message reveals that her mother was a cannibal too and that's why the father never spoke about her to Maren.
She has to spend a night at a bus station and is approached by a weird old man, Sully (Mark Rylance), who tells her he could smell her from the other side of town: he can smell "eaters". He is friendly and invites her to his house, where
she discovers that he has hauled a dying woman in a room and is just waiting
for her to die. The following morning she dies and both consume her flesh.
He shows no remorse for all the people he ate, but Maren feels immediately
guilty of what she's done and leaves alone.
She travels a bit further and one day, while
shoplifting in a general store, she witnesses a young man, Lee, confronting
a drunk man. Lee and the drunk walk outside to start a fight. Maren finds Lee
outside, with blood stains all over his face. Lee confesses that he smelled her, and she realizes that she smelled him too: eaters can smell each other.
Lee steals the truck of the dead man and
she gets into his truck and they take off together.
Lee accepts to drive her to her birthplace.
First they stop at Lee's place, where Lee's younger sister Kayla scolds him for disappearing all the time with no warning and no explanation.
Their father left them years earlier and now their mother is anxious about Lee's mysterious trips. Nonetheless, the following day Lee and Maren resume the trip, despite Kayla's anger.
Along the way they meet two weirdos: one is a eater like them, the other one just a deranged cop.
In another town Lee kills a man who cheated a little boy. Lee and Maren then
eat the body. On the way out of town they realize that the man had a wife and a little baby, and Maren feels horrible.
They finally reach the town where Maren was born and she tracks down her mother's old home. She meets her granma, who reveals that Maren's mother was adopted after being found abandoned in freezing weather as a baby. Granma initially refuses to say where Maren's mother is, but then reveals that Maren's mother is
locked in a mental institution, and that Maren's mother voluntarily filed the paperwork to be interned there. Maren visits her. The nurse informs her that
her mother has not been violent for many years after eating
her own hands.
Her mother is shaken to see Maren but had prepared a letter for her, knowing that sooner or later she'd show up.
The letter tells Maren that her mother knows of her cannibalistic tendency
and wishes her dead. In fact, the mother tries to kill her but can't do much without hands.
Maren abandons Lee and wanders alone. She is tracked down by Sully, who is obsessed with her and has followed her from a distance.
He invites her to be his friend but she refuses. He is hurt and leaves angry.
She travels to Lee's hometown. Lee has returned to his family. He has nightmares about all the people he killed.
Maren meets Kayla first, who reveals that her father was a drunk who tried to kill Lee and then disappeared. Maren suspects that Lee killed and ate his father.
Maren and Lee reunite like two ordinary kids in love, and decide to move west
and start a new life.
Lee reveals that his father tried not only to kill him but also to eat him,
his own son, but Lee prevailed and killed and ate his own father.
Lee admits that he was excited when he ate his father.
They settle down, find jobs and rent an apartment, but one day, while Lee is not home, Sully shows up, clearly unstable. Sully is angry at Maren and hints at
the need to kill her, while confessing that he just killed and ate Lee's sister Kayla. He pins her to the bed and is reluctant to kill her with his knife when Lee arrives just in time to stop him and kill him. During the fight Sully wounds Lee fatally. As he is dying, Lee begs Maren to eat his body.