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It was Spears who suggested perhaps his friend James Ivory should direct, with a script that Ivory and Guadagnino could work on together.

Guadagnino couldn’t deny the pleasure of elevating his level of involvement with each new turn in the road, and working with Ivory on the script was a joy.

He started where he usually does; he leaned into his cinephilia.

The films that sprang to mind: Jean Renoir’s A Day in the Country, Bertolucci’s La Luna, Rohmer’s 80s films like The Green Ray and Pauline à la Plage (Call Me is set in 1982).

“He showed up at my place in Crema, and we started working together.

It took us a year of back-and-forth between Crema and New York, and we started from scratch.

Guadagnino’s film had to hit that same balance of the personal and the universal. “For me to believe in something means to be completely invested in it,” he says.

It soon became undeniable: if this movie was going to go ahead, Luca Guadagnino would have to step up. We did it because we wanted to do it.” So what was it about this story that inspired such fevered devotion, and yet such hesitation to take the reins?

Ivory finally suggested Guadagnino join him as a co-director.

“But nobody believed in this concept,” Guadagnino sighs. But nobody believed two filmmakers could make a movie together—unless they were brothers, or a pair to begin with.” Guadagnino could be fast and nimble in a way Ivory wasn’t practiced in.

” But he is not alone in finding this kind of connection with the story.

The book’s fans are diehard, and you don’t have to be gay, or Jewish, or to have summered in Italy, to remember the stomach-churning joys of first desire.

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