By our editor Coen van Zwol
“Timmy, Timmy”, fans scream as Timothée Chalamet shuffles towards the water taxi. A selfie here, a signature there: the young superstar seems to be enjoying it. Later that evening, he swapped his T-shirt on the red carpet for a blood-red shiny uniform that leaves his bone-thin back uncovered. The fashion press is delighted.
Opponent Taylor Russell has the lead role in Bones and All as a teenage cannibal Maren, but all the attention at the Venice Film Festival goes to the androgynous sex symbol Chalamet (26). Last year he was on the Lido as savior Paul Atreides in science fiction epic dunein Bones and All he is the sexy tortured cannibal Lee. Before the press conference, he playfully sinks his teeth into director Luca Guadagnino’s calf.
Bones and All is a romance about lovers who can devour each other skin and hair; it gives every kiss a morbid tension. The film revolves around issues of conscience and lifestyle choices for young cannibals in rural America in the 1980s. You have to be able to take blood, as well as bones and guts, but this turns out to be a surprisingly melancholy indie road movie with a memorable, ambivalent supporting role from Mark Rylance as would-be mentor Sully who knows that loneliness is the fate of the cannibal.
Adolescent cannibals travel the world in search of their tribe. As all young people should do, says Timothée Chalamet during his press conference. The recent isolation due to lockdown gives the film a deeper resonance in his eyes. Chalamet himself has already found his tribe: the theater people and actors among whom he grew up. “But it was a relief to play a character who struggles with dilemmas without having the option to find out on social media which whole he fits into. I don’t want to judge that. if you so you tribe thinks: fine, but I think social disintegration is in the air.”
Bones and All is a new strong addition to the exciting competition of the 79th Venice Film Festival. Saturday there is a handsome profile of the photographer Nan Goldin in All The Beauty and the Bloodshedas well as the good old-fashioned court drama Argentina, 1985. The two and a half hours fly by while in Chief Prosecutor Julio Strassera and his team of youthful outsiders in shaky democratic Argentina in 1985 are trying to put the military junta – which arrested, tortured and murdered 30,000 civilians – behind bars. An old recipe flawlessly executed with top ingredients: expect Strassera’s requisitoir in a firm lump in your throat.
The banlieue spectacle is deafening and operatic Athens by music video maker Romain Gavras: about the fictional Parisian concrete jungle Athena that goes up in flames after an incident involving police brutality. The kind of explosions that the informal rulers of the banlieue see in the recent French hit film Les Miserables van Ladj Ly – screenwriter here – so jealously try to prevent it: it could culminate in a French civil war. Four hot-tempered North African brothers – archetypes – march or run in continuous tracking shots through the battlefield. Abdel is a military man, Moktar a drug criminal, Karim an emo-revolutionary, Sébastien a crazy jihadist. They mourn the death of their little brother Idir.
Netflix movie Athens hooks on Greek tragedy – see the title – but because everything is in high gear from minute one – a stampede at a police station – and everyone is half hysterical, there can hardly be any moral or psychological development. The message – don’t be provoked, violence only harms the banlieue – is rather undermined by the resounding, lustful mass violence of clubs, tear gas and fire arrow, supported by sacred choral singing or threatening Turkish marching music. If I was younger, I would immediately demolish a bus shelter afterwards.