Magazine article Variety

The Nonconformists: Bertolucci & Guadagnino

Magazine article Variety

The Nonconformists: Bertolucci & Guadagnino

Article excerpt

BERNARDO BERTOLUCCI AND Luca Guadagnino hail from different generations, but both Italian directors have a bent for making sensual English-language films. And each knows what it's like to be embraced by critics and audiences abroad but snubbed at home, as Bertolucci tells Variety in a rare interview.

Perhaps that experience has helped fuel the two auteurs' mutual admiration. Bertolucci, whose 1987 epic "The Last Emperor" scored a historic nine-Oscar sweep, including best director and picture, has long been a champion of Guadagnino's work, while the younger director spent two years sifting through archives to make "Bertolucci on Bertolucci," a documentary Guadagnino considers to be his most personal film. Bertolucci, 77, was the first outsider to whom Guadagnino showed a rough cut of his coming-of-age love story "Call Me by Your Name," which several critics note is reminiscent of the older maestro's 1996 film "Stealing Beauty"

Guadagnino has had a fervent fan base in Los Angeles and London since 2009's "I Am Love," starring Tilda Swinton, but he has never received much love from his compatriots. Both "I Am Love" and "A Bigger Splash" launched at the Venice Film Festival to stony receptions in Italy; combined, they barely took in more than $500,000 at the Italian box office.

But attitudes toward Guadagnino in his home country might be changing now with "Call Me by Your Name," which has grossed more than $3 million in Italy since opening Jan. 25, two days after scoring four Oscar nominations for best picture, actor, adapted screenplay and song. "Italy as a whole, the critics and the audience, always perceived Luca as a foreign body," says Venice Film Festival artistic director Alberto Barbera. The strong showing of "Call Me" finally "pays him back for all the wrongs he has suffered."

Bertolucci spoke to Variety about his rapport with Guadagnino, why he thinks the 46-year-old director has been slighted at home and his own experience of failure in Italy

What's your opinion of "Call Me by Your Name"?

I think Luca's latest film is his best one. He has reached such a completeness and creative grace. Probably the theme of this film is one that Luca has felt very intensely, and this has yielded an important result. …

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