A Luca Guadagnino Film for All Seasons

Ahead of the release of ‘Challengers’ starring Zendaya, Josh O'Connor and Mike Faist, we take a seasonal tour through the filmmaker’s eclectic archive.

Luca Guadagnino became a household name following the 2017 release of Call Me By Your Name, which itself instantly joined the canon of classic summer films. It’s easy, then, to associate director’s work with the saturated colors, youthful vibrance and sun-soaked atmosphere of the summer months.

There are many ways of exploring Guadagnino’s archive: through his fixation with adolescence, or his voyeuristic regard. We propose as a new approach of viewing his work: through a seasonal lens.

The Call Me By Your Name set Photographed by Giulio Ghirardi

SPRING

As the darkness fades and the depths of seasonal depression recede, spring emerges. An ideal accompaniment to this newfound sense of life is I Am Love (2009). Doused in sun, Emma Recchi’s (played by Tilda Swinton) heart thaws as she moves outside the confines of her marriage to a wealthy Italian heir, falling in love with a young chef, Antonio (played by Edoardo Gabbriellini). Viewers follow a journey of rediscovery of love, desire and self – all of Guadagnino’s favorite themes – set against a sumptuous Italian backdrop.

SUMMER

Summer seems so synonymous with Guadagnino that it’s a character in its own right in several of his best-known films.

Start the season with A Bigger Splash (2015), Guadagnino’s remake of the ’60s French classic La Piscine, starring Dakota Johnson and, again, Tilda Swinton. Set on the Sicilian island Pantelleria, the film captures the chaos that the summer heat can cause. The characters’ impulsivity, the island’s scorched landscape and the heady nature of the storyline make this an ideal film for the beginning of the season.

Then travel from the Sicilian islands to the Italian countryside with Call Me By Your Name (2017). Through Guadagnino’s impressive sound design and cinematography, the cult film’s depiction of long, warm sunny days has come to represent a certain embodiment of summer, so much so that droves of fans have made the pilgrimage to the small Italian town where the film was shot. Ending the summer season with this film evokes nostalgia for the months that have passed, while its ending, set in snowy winter, reminds viewers of the weather to come.

AUTUMN

Autumn brings with it a return to reality and routine. Also entering this mode is Fraser Wilson from We Are Who We Are (2020), Guadagnino’s first foray into TV. Viewers follow Fraser (played by Jack Dylan Grazer) as he begins school on the military base where he now lives with his two moms. Growing pains ensue as he navigates the perils of being 14 and seeking freedom in a rigid environment.

As the autumn months progress, darkness engulfs the days, which become shorter. Although Bones And All (2023) could be set in a transitional season based on the costumes alone, the film is less a literal representation of the season and more a symbolic incarnation. Following two cannibals (played by Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell) on a journey across America, Guadagnino’s ever-present themes of love and youth continue to shine through the darkness. However, it’s the darkness that is more intriguing here. As the film progresses, viewers encounter the many characters that personify the outliers of society, those hiding in the shadows.

While it’s an obvious choice for a Halloween film due to its gore and horror, Bones And All is also an interesting autumnal film due to the subtextual notes which comment on the darker corners of society.

WINTER

Suspiria captures the darkness of winter, both on and below the film’s surface. This remake of Dario Argento’s 1977 film of the same name follows Dakota Johnson as Susie Bannion, a talented young dancer who moves to Berlin to attend a renowned dance school led by, you guessed it, Tilda Swinton. Later, viewers learn the school is run by witches and Susie is being inducted into their coven. Through a series of viscerally uncomfortable and at times disturbing experiences, Susie comes into her own power. Suspiria is a stark shift from the electric and sunnier disposition of Guadagnino’s other films. Darkness resides not only in the film’s storyline, but also its coloring, setting, and costuming.

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