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Guadagnino on Crying, Cumming and Cannibalism

Writing by Scarlett Smyth. Artwork by Cally Buxton.


Me and Jessie went to go see Bones and All last night. We bought grapes and popcorn to take in with us. I haven’t felt hungry for 2 days, and when I do, there’s nothing I can think of that I want to eat apart from fruit that’s crisp and bursts. While the credits rolled, Jessie cried. I’d been crying intermittently throughout the whole thing. When we left, we didn’t talk for a little while. We walked past a big group of men and women in their 30s who’d been at the pub and were wearing coats from M&S; they were shouting at each other in that drunk, brazen way. Everyone I looked at I thought ‘you haven’t seen what I just have.’


When I see a movie that I really love, it feels like I’ve dipped into a world that no one else can get into, and no one else will understand where I’ve been. Language twists and blurs it; the pictures break into something uncatchable. It’s like rubbing a circle on skin. Being naked in the sun with all your edges melting.


When we got to the pub, it was loud and disjointed. There was a man playing acoustic covers of Maroon 5 and the like on his guitar and everyone shouted the words with him. A sports team (I bet rugby, Jessie thought they were rowers) sat right in front of him. He did a Scottish drinking song I’d never heard and they got up and jumped about. We sat quietly, sombre amidst the ruckus. The girl who poured our pints was wearing a white milk-maid’s dress from Urban Outfitters that I’d contemplated purchasing for a few weeks this summer. Jessie said “I couldn’t work out what the metaphor was. At first I thought it was love, and then sex, and then I thought it might be addiction, after he had his whole speech about how this is just what they need to do, and they’ll hurt people but that’s the way it is, that’s how they live”. She paused for a moment. “Maybe it’s not a metaphor. Maybe they’re just cannibals.”


I went home and googled reviews to try and find out. I like people to tell me what to think – astrology and tarot cards that will show me the truth. Some guy from the Guardian said that it was about the hunger of poverty, the shame you carry with you after doing what it takes to survive. I think it’s also about longing of another kind, one you can’t take, one that only grows. You can plant the seeds, water it, but what the sun does isn’t up to you.


At the next pub we went to, Jessie said that she knew the feeling; if she could peel back the skin, maybe she’d understand you, break that unbearable boundary between self and other. She could cut herself open for you to crawl in – taste her trembling heartbeat. When your teeth break her skin there’s no hole, just blood and flesh that rips and tears between lips and teeth. Hot-red and slippery. I said “Yeah, it’s like crying and cumming and vomiting; having your inside on your outside”. When we were 17 my friend told me that she knew she loved someone if she would have their baby to keep a part of them near if they died. At the time I thought she was insane. Now I write about the people I love to make them immortal.


I don’t think there are words to explain the metaphor in Bones and All. It sinks into you as you watch the kissing turn to biting turn to eating. A little part of someone in you forever, breaking down in the lining of your stomach.

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