There Doesn't Have Be a Leading Man, or a Male-Female Story, to Get the Point of Love across; Call Me by Your Name Director Luca Guadagnino Returns with an Unsettling Take on Cult Horror Classic Suspiria, Starring Dakota Johnson. GEORGIA HUMPHREYS Chats to the Pair about the Appeal of the Female-Led Film

The Birmingham Post (England), November 22, 2018 | Go to article overview

There Doesn't Have Be a Leading Man, or a Male-Female Story, to Get the Point of Love across; Call Me by Your Name Director Luca Guadagnino Returns with an Unsettling Take on Cult Horror Classic Suspiria, Starring Dakota Johnson. GEORGIA HUMPHREYS Chats to the Pair about the Appeal of the Female-Led Film


Byline: GEORGIA HUMPHREYS

LUCA GUADAGNINO was 10 when he first spied the film poster for 1977 horror hit Suspiria. The Italian became mesmerised by it as he walked to summer camp each day, and now, over three decades later, the Call Me By Your Name director, 47, has remade the classic story for the silver screen.

It depicts darkness swirling at the centre of a worldrenowned dance company in Berlin, one that will engulf the troupe's artistic director (Tilda Swinton), an ambitious young dancer (Dakota Johnson), and a grieving psychotherapist.

For 29-year-old Dakota, playing Susie Bannion was not just appealing because she loved movies about dancers growing up, but also because it is a female-led movie.

"You go in thinking, 'OK, I'm going to film this psychotic story in an abandoned hotel with a cast of 40 women. It's going to be mayhem!"' quips the Texas-born star, known for the Fifty Shades Of Grey franchise.

"And yeah, everyone was on the same menstrual cycle - the whole thing was so witchy - but there was such a foundation of support and love and true, deep connections with one another.

"It was so liberating, and it made me feel proud to show this way of film-making to the world: There doesn't have to be a leading man, or a male-female story, to get the point of love across."

Of course, the actress - whose parents are Hollywood stars Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson - was also drawn to the themes of Suspiria.

ON "Growing up, I loved movies about dancers," she elaborates.

BIG SCREEN "I loved movies about bands of women, like The Craft or even, like, Clueless, Hannah And Her Sisters, or Heavenly Creatures... these relationships between women."

She adds thoughtfully: "I was also just interested in witches, witchcraft, magic, this sort of other-worldly, energetic something, and I wanted to see what Luca wanted to do with this movie and with the story."

Back to the appeal of the project for Luca, and he reveals that the period in his life when he first saw the startling image for the original Suspiria poster "was a trying time".

"I was not the popular one; I was the shy one. I had already nurtured a passion for things the average kid wasn't fond of, like cinema, and an attraction for the morbid."

It wasn't until he was 13 that he actually saw Suspiria, when he stumbled upon a broadcast of it on Italian public television just as his family were about to sit down for dinner.

He refused to eat, locking himself in his room to watch it, and became even more fascinated by its "crazy boldness".

THE "I think the stamina, the driving agent, was the love for Dario's (Argento) film," he says of his bloodthirsty remake. "But the inspiration probably lies in the year of the movie by Dario, the release, 1977. That is the focus that me and David (Kajganich, writer) started to really put our attention on... 1977, Berlin, and how to use the history of the time, the reality of the place in a sort of mirroring with the story of the witches and Susie Bannion."

Once Luca made the decision to cast Dakota, the actress spent a year before production developing her character.

"Susie comes from a Mennonite family and was born feeling as though her soul did not match up with the religion, the people, the rules," notes the actress. …

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There Doesn't Have Be a Leading Man, or a Male-Female Story, to Get the Point of Love across; Call Me by Your Name Director Luca Guadagnino Returns with an Unsettling Take on Cult Horror Classic Suspiria, Starring Dakota Johnson. GEORGIA HUMPHREYS Chats to the Pair about the Appeal of the Female-Led Film
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