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Dive into director Guadagnino’s world of international cinematic intrigue

Discover more of his sensual, signature style

By Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service
Published: April 26, 2024, 6:04am

Italian director Luca Guadagnino has become an art house darling over the past 15 years, making films about desire, longing, relationships and identity that have resonated with audiences and catapulted his actors to superstardom. His latest film, “Challengers” is his biggest yet, starring Zendaya, Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor in a steamy tennis love triangle that plays out over the course of 13 years.

If “Challengers” piques your interest for more of Guadagnino’s signature sensual style, there’s more to discover in his oeuvre, so take a spin through his catalog on streaming to dive into his world of international cinematic intrigue.

Guadagnino refers to three of his breakthrough films as his “Desire Trilogy,” which culminates with the 2017 film “Call Me by Your Name,” an adaptation of the Andre Aciman novel, which earned star Timothee Chalamet an Oscar nomination. The queer coming-of-age story was a sensation, debuting at Sundance and sending young audiences into a fervor, but it’s also a compelling family story and dreamy portrait of Italian vacation life. Stream it on Hulu or rent it elsewhere.

The previous installments in the Desire Trilogy were “A Bigger Splash,” Guadagnino’s 2015 riff on the 1969 film “La Piscine,” starring frequent collaborators Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson opposite Ralph Fiennes and Matthias Schoenaerts. Swinton stars as an ailing rock star whose Sardinian vacation is crashed by her ex and his daughter, resulting in an escalating tension and chaos. Rent it on all digital platforms.

Swinton also starred in Guadagnino’s 2009 film “I Am Love,” about a woman who marries into a wealthy Milan family and has her senses awakened by a local chef. Stream it on Hulu, Kanopy or rent it elsewhere.

Guadagnino has also dabbled in horror, rendered in his own way, collaborating with screenwriter David Kajganich on the 2018 remake of the 1977 Italian giallo classic “Suspiria.” Starring Swinton and Johnson again, while the general plot points remain the same (a young American woman enrolls at a dance school that turns out to be a secret coven of witches), Guadagnino and Kajganich adapt the setting to Berlin of 1977, the “German Autumn,” as a way to explore themes of postwar guilt and trauma. It’s a highly stylized and extremely disturbing affair. Stream it on Prime Video, Freevee or rent it elsewhere.

The auteur explored the cannibalism subgenre in his 2022 film “Bones and All,” which was also written by Kajganich and adapted from the novel by Camille DeAngelis. Starring Chalamet and Taylor Russell, “Bones and All” follows a young couple traveling across the heartland of America in the 1980s as they contend with their taboo need to feast on human flesh. Stream it on Prime Video, MGM+ or rent it elsewhere.

Guadagnino also created and directed the 2020 series “We Are Who We Are,” about a group of American teenagers living on an Italian military base. Stream it on Max.

His first films “The Protagonists” (1999) and “Melissa P.” (2005) are not on streaming, nor is his documentary “Bertolucci on Bertolucci” (2013), but his 2020 documentary, “Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams,” is available to rent on all digital platforms.

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