When a talent like Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name, I Am Love) makes a film you seek it out whether it is 90 minutes or 480 minutes (approximately).
Feels like an lingering and imperfect novel. This long form film best fits directors who work quickly like Fassbinder and Soderbergh. Guadagnino made a film in 2017 (Call Me By Your Name) and another long film in 2018 (Suspiria). Most directly simply can’t do that. I would’ve liked to have seen him slow down and make a better, shorter film—but this still is a form that could work for him
It is his second time working with a digital camera- also did it on A Bigger Splash (to gorgeous results there)
Shot on location in Italy on a military base and it makes for a sort of microcosm for life—a little biosphere- and a potent coming of age drama
It is certainly a companion piece for Call Me By Your Name with some of the same themes (young love, coming of age, Americans living in Italy)- though this is set contemporary (2016 with MAGA hats and Trump on the television) instead of the 1980’s
Guadagnino is, if nothing else, an artist of exquisite taste and a clear passion for fashion and music. The Jack Dylan Grazer “Fraser” character has some wild outfits (and is interested in fashion). Has the Rolling Stones 40 licks socks and jacket. Guadagnino uses music diegetically in interesting ways including muting characters (often their parents) as the kids put on their headphones. The first episode the Fraser character is just wandering around a new place diving in and out of his headphones. With the coming of age, the young male here with the freeze frames— it is hard not to think of Truffaut’s 400 Blows
Episode 2 shifts to the same day from Jordan Ristine Seamon’s “Caitlin”s perspective. This isn’t an exercise in non-linear narrative though—Guadagnino stops this after the first two episodes. She gets a prolonged freeze at 15 minutes. A nice match and elongated dissolve edit at 19 minutes. She is literally coming of age as this is the day of her first period.
Fraser has posters of The Last Tango in Paris and Blue Velvet in his room and is the son of a lesbian military leader (accomplished indie goddess Chloe Sevigny). The film is about sexuality, and sexual identity—first love and infatuation like Call Me By Your Name
A slow-motion tableau ballet of the group of friends after paintball in episode four
A strong tracking shot at the Russian mansion in episode four as well
59 minutes into episode seven there is a twin tracking shot to the sort of party/orgy shot in episode four at the Russian mansion—here it is destruction and chaos
Freeze frame as they buzz her hair in episode five
A few times Guadagnino uses the same shot overhead of the boat on the water like The Talented Mr. Ripley
Music from Paul McCartney to Radiohead–impeccably curated—and the Blood Orange (original score is by lead Devonté Hynes) songs and culminating concert is a fitting climax for a film that’s in the headspace of two 15-16 year olds
Recommend but not a top 10 of the year quality film
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