All guts, no glory

All guts, no glory

“When you’re 140 wet pounds, you gotta have an attitude.” So says Timothée Chalamet in bones and all, taking one of the few intentionally funny lines from Luca Guadagnino’s ridiculous cannibal romance drama and giving it a bit of wit and self-mockery. The title of Camille DeAngelis’ 2015 YA novel about a pair of star-crossed, flesh-eating lovers wandering through the Reagan-era United States references the grotesque taste habits of its anti-heroes, but it also works as a double meaning about its It Boy headliner. No matter how much human viscera Lee de Chalamet eats for 130 minutes, his prominent ribcage remains visible through his lean torso.

Chalamet is not really the star of bones and all: that would be Taylor Russell (so striking a few years ago in Waves), whose 18-year-old character, Maren, provides our entry point into a slightly biased yet naturalistically rendered universe. It’s 1988 in the heartland of the United States, jobs are scarce, and in every small town a few underground drifters lead a bloodthirsty double life, picking up loners and eating them under cover of night. In a carefully crafted and largely effective prologue, we meet Maren, who lives in a trailer park in Virginia with her single father (Andre Holland). They’re tight, but Dad lifts his affection with wary concern. Maren tells a classmate that he’s overprotective, but there’s clearly something else going on.

Later, after sneaking off for a slumber party – and, implied, a potential makeup session – with her new girlfriend, Maren takes the other girl’s hand to examine her manicure. She ends up chewing the skin right off the bone like a chicken wing. Rushing home, distraught, she is greeted by her father, less horrified than disappointed, resigned to an itinerant lifestyle that one assumes has endured for some time now. Take everything you can, he tells her, and get in the car.

Crude stuff, of course, and of all the weird detours taken by major international filmmakers in recent years, Guadagnino’s hard turn into body horror is perhaps the hardest to reconcile. In flowery and campy dramas like I am love and A bigger splash, the Italian filmmaker displayed a wild but authentic talent for visual and tonal excess, surfing with agility on surging waves of emotion. The latter features luxurious storytelling and several tour de force moments, including Ralph Fiennes’ lip-sync to The Rolling Stones’ “Emotional Rescue” (a set piece repeated in bones and all when Chalamet vamps on “Lick It Up” by Kiss).

In 2017 Call me by your name, Guadagnino found a way to filter that larger-than-life pop-art sensibility through a literary pedigree and ended up with one of the most beloved prestige images of recent years: a crowd pleaser that still retained some mystery. Before being memorized and talked about until death – and separated from its importance as Chalamet’s official movie star coming-out party – the film won its acclaim as a coming-of-age story. with an unusual tenderness and insight, suited to youthful fears of love, sex and identity. The charm of Chalamet’s performance lay in the way his inexperienced character used arrogance to disguise and deflect uncertainty; his Tom Cruise–en–Risky business the charisma was imbued with an air of believable confusion.

Given the mellow, sunny vibes of his biggest hit, it still seems extremely bizarre that Guadagnino’s next move was to try and remake sighscanonical 1977 of fellow elder Dario Argento giallo, a film that not only nailed it all the first time around, but did it with such a distinctive, idiosyncratic flair that any attempt to replicate it would be doomed. To his credit, Guadagnino didn’t really try to replicate sighs or its dark red aesthetic, but sadly the elements it added – like a six-part episodic structure, a grayscale color palette, and mega-pretentious sociopolitical subtext – shed nothing new. In fact, it turned Argento’s antics into a chore. Too long, obscenely violent, and ultimately less subversive than numbness, no sigh was the kind of failure that only a talented and ambitious filmmaker could commit. The hypothetical silver lining was that after getting him out of his system, the filmmaker might be able to move away from genre tropes he’s shown no real gift for.

bones and all is not as abruptly prolonged as sighs, and its shock to amazement ratio is slightly tighter. (It also doesn’t feature anything quite as whimsical as its predecessor’s latex-encrusted three-part performance by Tilda Swinton, whose faith in its director was misplaced.) But that’s not all the better either. , and there’s no one to blame for that, really, besides the high-flying filmmaker presiding over the project with total, self-aware control. Where some fiascos are clearly the result of creative indecision or behind-the-scenes chaos, bones and all looks and sounds like the movie Guadagnino wanted to make. It was shot (beautifully) in dull, rusty tones by cinematographer Arseni Khachaturan, who can charge a rural landscape at dusk with a real, creeping menace; Marco Costa’s rapid, sometimes elliptical editing blurs the language of frightening clichés. The cinematography is accomplished, even inventive in places, and yet, despite all the obvious efforts, it mostly succeeds in reminding us of other, better daggers on similar themes and imagery, including and especially Claire’s 2001 thriller Dennis. problems every daywith its nightmarish amalgamation of death and desire.

When no one would call problems every day an accessible film, at least offered an explanation – albeit obliquely awkward – for why the characters played by Béatrice Dalle and Vincent Gallo were trying to literally consume their sexual partners. What’s strange bones and all is that the predations of its star “eaters” – not just Maren and Lee, but the older, more experienced lifer Sully (Mark Rylance) who lingers at the edges of the story – doesn’t seem to “mean” what whether it be. They are neither symbolic nor suggestive, just void of anything resembling class, gender or generational tensions. There is no clear metaphor here like in the zombie movies of George A. Romero and his descendants, nor a sense of guts as philosophy like David Cronenberg was.

This lack of intellectuality isn’t necessarily a problem: at a time when every other A24 Panic is presented as a treatise on trauma, we could use more good straight-up horror movies (which in turn explains the box -robust pantry for Barbaric and Smile). The thing is, Guadagnino, with his colorful approach, isn’t the guy to give them to us. He’s not even going to try either. Every precisely framed photo and every wink I-love-the-80s needle drop in bones and all is dripping with artistic intent to the point of parody, and yet they never turn into anything like an actual artistic point of view. It’s as if Guadagnino simply understood that by mixing together a number of films which in different ways touch raw and exposed nerves, notably the amorous lyricism on the run from Badlands and the murderous codependency of Leave the one on the right in-it would get under our skin. But the moment he shoots Lee crushing an unfortunate victim with a crowbar like one of the monkeys in 2001 (or Daniel Day-Lewis at the end of there will be blood), it has moved into the realm of quotation for its own sake, too obvious to be scary.

The actors do what they can and, in Rylance’s case, more than they have to. While there’s no risk he’ll win an Oscar for such an off-the-beaten-track film, the decorated British comedian gives the kind of landscape-chewing performance, For Your Consideration that bears witness to a blend of sarcastic amusement and reluctance, you gotta do it – to respect him – the same formula he applied to his stage-stealing and socially inept tech guru in Don’t look up. If Maren and Lee are essentially desirable ciphers – vessels allowing Russell and Chalamet to wrinkle their faces and passionately tangle their limbs in an attempt to Dusk-style pathos – Sully de Rylance is an expressly literary creation. He has a silly hat and a ponytail; he speaks in the third person with a thick, untraceable accent; he appears out of nowhere like a ghost; he poses enigmatic riddles. As far as how he is used by the script, Sully is a completely mechanical figure, introduced first to provide exposition on his and Maren’s condition (they can apparently feel, and others like them, over great distances by smell) and then as a hidden, potentially dangerous leaf.

Guadagnino loves when actors go above and beyond, and Rylance has competition in the supporting cast of Chloë Sevigny in a mute, wide-eyed role as an institutionalized woman, and an almost unrecognizable Jessica Harper (star of the original sighs) as Maren’s nervous grandmother. There’s also a memorable cameo, what am I looking at here from Michael Stuhlbarg (so good in call me by your name) which plays like a self-contained short – an example of the episodic, intermittent rhythm that hampers the film as a whole. For road movies to work, they need a restless, relentless sense of momentum. bones and all drags on excruciatingly, especially in the middle when its characters’ guilty indecision about their lifestyle and its collateral damage begins to feel repetitive rather than overwhelming.

At one point in their journey, Lee and Maren visit a country carnival, and there’s a lovely fleeting image of them sitting together on a Ferris wheel, ice cream in hand. They could be archetypal American teenagers. Guadagnino probably wants the whole movie to feel that way, like a series of snapshots that capture the blissful feelings of young love while hinting at the wild impulses lurking beneath. The problem is, he’s so determined to indulge his own savagery that he finds himself in the realm of pure, baited public provocation. It’s a fine place to be if you’re, say, Lars von Trier, but it’s no man’s land for a filmmaker whose anger or outrage always seems to be stoked after the fact. The same maximalism that makes Guadagnino potentially vital in an author-driven arthouse ecosystem less is more also exposes its bad taste, as opposed to tastelessness, which might have been a better vibe for this premise. . A truly off-leash director could have done bones and all indelibly strange; In Guadagnino’s deft but uncertain hands, it’s an elaborate and ultimately useless piece of exploitation movie cosplay – an aimless provocation, a point or even a lifetime beyond the next awards season.

Adam Nyman is a Toronto-based film critic, teacher and author; his book The Coen Brothers: This Book Truly Ties the Movies Together is available now from Abrams.

#guts #glory

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *