Culture / Film

Your guide to watching Luca Guadagnino movies

luca guadagnino movies

Everyone has a favourite Luca Guadagnino movie, and it's Call Me By Your Name. Although, I fear that may change once people get to the cinemas to see Bones and All.

But surely there's more to the Italian-Algerian filmmaker's back catalogues than Timmy in that peach scene? As it turns out, Guadagnino has been making films long before 2017, with his first, The Protagonists, premiering back in 1999. The content of his films are vast and varied, oscillating between true crime, French New Wave classics, cannibalism, first love, witches – and that's just off the top of my head. Although, they always come back to desire, relationships, power and love. A menu we'll always feast on, even if it leaves us damp and depressed.

In any case, if you're looking to dig deep into the Guadagnino archives, here's a rundown of all seven of his films. Find them, below.


1. Bones and All (2022)

Where to start with Bones and All? The film officially outstrips CMBYN as Guadagnino's best. Set during Reagan's America, the movie has all the wide shots of desolate landscapes, with working-class Americana weaved throughout. It's spare and intensely human, speaking to our desires, repressed or otherwise, and our innate hunger for companionship and to be truly seen for who we are. The soundtrack is impeccable – KISS, loads of New Wave, that Leonard Cohen track – as is Maren and Sully's wardrobe; all the soft cotton underwear, floral dresses, combat boots, badges and Surplus Store-wear. The dynamic between Taylor Russell and Mark Rylance's characters is deftly navigated, in fact, I couldn't take my eyes off Russell. As for Timmy, well, we already know he's a star. Chloë Sevigny's cameo is brief but haunting and Michael Stuhlbarg delivers a particularly memorable monologue about the ultimate Eater (the film's name for a cannibal) experience: consuming a person "bones and all". It doesn't take long before you understand it's not really about cannibalism at all...although the fleshy scenes are truly grisly.


2. Call Me By Your Name (2017)

It's hard to sum up a film that everyone feels so connected to. It's the movie that really launched Guadagnino into the mainstream, and Timothée Chalamet along with him. Soft summer romance set in Northern Italy with a storyline that invites queerness into the genre. We want Guadagnino and Guadagnino only to handle all coming-of-age stories, adaptations from now on. Another perfect soundtrack and who could forget Elio's father's monologue or the blissful tactility of the whole film. There's a reason it took home three Oscars in 2018. Admittedly, the revelations of Armie Hammer's alleged abuse changes the experience of watching the film, although we refuse to allow a man to ruin the hard work of all other parties involved.


3. Suspiria (2018)

Welcome to what we like to call "Guadagnino gets witchy". No stranger to adaptations at this point, the Italian-Algerian director's take on the 1977 horror from Dario Argento is darker tonally and visually than the original, but especially as far as Guadagnino films go. Featuring a formidable cast comprising of Guadagnino regular, Tilda Swinton, as well as Dakota Johnson, Mia Goth, Chloe Grace Moretz and Jessica Harper, we hope you like tension because you'll find no relief at this Berlin dance academy.


4. A Bigger Splash (2015)

A fan of La Piscine? You'll find the same dynamics here. Rich people behaving badly? Check. A doomed love triangle? Sure. Some questionable age gaps? Yup. A slinky adult-age daughter with a stomach for stirring the pot? Absolutely. Named after the David Hockney painting that captures water rising from a pool, but omitting the person that created it, it's a great metaphor for Guadagnino's point of interest here, not murder per say, but all the relations bubbling away that lead you to this point. Despite uttering less than a sentence for the entire film, Tilda Swinton slays as a vacationing musician. Throw in Ralph Fiennes, Dakota Johnson and Matthias Schoenaerts, and you've got us sitting a little straighter.


5. I Am Love (2009)

If you watch Guadagnino's films chronologically, you'll notice that this is the point where he turns a corner. The storytelling feels concise and purposeful, and the characters are imbued with satisfying complexity, aided of course by the fact that it's Tilda Swinton doing the acting. Here she plays the ultimate outsider, Emma, a Russian who has married into the powerful Italian Recchi family, their status akin to Succession's Logan family or the Bass contingent in Gossip Girl. Despite being fluent in Italian, Emma speaks with a Russian accent, which becomes emblematic of her relationship to the family more broadly. When Emma strikes up an affair with a chef, her desire threatens to upend her life. Good for her.


6. Melissa P. (2005)

Of all Guadagnino's films, this one has drawn the most criticism. What aims to capture the sexual coming of age of a 15-year-old girl, ultimately ends up plunging its protagonist Melissa into increasingly dangerous and honestly unnecessary instances of sexual coercion. You leave feeling the same as if you'd watched Thirteen, that is, dirty. If anything though, it's proof that good art involves making mistakes and learning from them.


7. The Protagonists (1999)

It really has been 21 years since Luca Guadagnino made his directorial debut, and The Protagonists makes you feel all the more grateful for them. Brace yourself, it's an experimental one, and starring Tilda Swinton again, no less. A documentary/stage production/feature film that aims to dig into the senseless and inexplicable murder of London waiter, Mohamed el-Sayed, by two schoolboys in 1994. We'll let you form your own opinion on this one.


Stay inspired, follow us.

Image: IMDb