Fast becoming the defining Gen Z film star, Timothee Chalamet is testing the stomachs of his many fans with a bone-crunching, blood-splattered “cannibal romance” that premiered in Venice on Friday.
“Bones and All”, competing at the Venice Film Festival, reunites the 26-year-old with Italian director Luca Guadagnino following their much-loved romance “Call Me By Your Name”, which earned Chalamet his first Oscar nomination.
Known for his daring red carpet styles, Chalamet did not disappoint with a backless, blood-red bodysuit.
The film puts him alongside relative newcomer Taylor Russell as two young lovers in 1980s rural America, who face the usual coming-of-age challenges, but must also contend with an uncontrollable need for human flesh.
At least they did not have to deal with social media, Chalamet told reporters.
“It was a relief to play characters who are wrestling with an internal dilemma, absent the ability to go on Reddit or Twitter or TikTok to see how you fit in,” he said.
The “Dune” star sounded less than optimistic about the state of the world and the pressure felt by his generation.
“To be young now is to be intensively judged,” he said at the press conference, which was delayed by the frenzy of fans as he arrived on the Lido island.
“It’s tough to be alive now. Societal collapse is in the air. It smells like it. Without wanting to be pretentious, hopefully that’s why these movies matter because the role of the artist, so I’m told, is to shine a light on what’s going on.”
His co-star agreed it was “scary” to be young at this moment.
“Opinions are flooded into your everyday in such a drastic and severe way,” Russell said. “The hope is you can find your own compass in all of it but that seems a difficult task now.”
The 11-day Venice Film Festival runs until September 10, with 23 films competing for the hearts of a jury led by actor Julianne Moore.
Critics have been divided on the entries so far.
An early front-runner for best actress award is Cate Blanchett who earned rave reviews for her complex turn as an impassioned but predatory classical music conductor in “Tar”.
But there were a mixed of laudatory and so-so reviews for US satire “White Noise” starring Adam Driver that opened the festival on Wednesday.
And many reviewers agreed that “Bardo” — a fantastical semi-autobiography from Mexico’s two-time Oscar-winner Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu — was ambitious but “outrageously narcissistic”, in the words of The Guardian.
“Bones and All” also received mixed verdicts, ranging from Variety (“a dull ramble”) through Deadline (“an imperfect masterpiece”) to The Guardian calling it a five-star “heartbreaking banquet of brilliance”.
It is the first US-based film from Guadagnino, who was also behind comedy-drama “A Bigger Splash” and horror remake “Suspiria”.
The 51-year-old said he waited so long because “the vastness and complexity of the United States of America merited the perspective of a more mature person”.
Chalamet said the film focuses on “intensely isolated young people, without identity yet” and that it was made at the height of the coronavirus pandemic when he, too, felt “cut off from the social contact that helps us understand where we are in the world”.