VENICE, Italy - Fast becoming the defining Gen Z film star, Timothee Chalamet will test the stomachs of his many fans with a bone-crunching, blood-splattered "cannibal romance", which premiered in Venice last Friday.
Road movie Bones And All, competing at the Venice Film Festival, reunites the 26-year-old American actor with Italian director Luca Guadagnino following their much-loved 2017 gay romance Call Me By Your Name, which earned Chalamet his first Oscar nomination.
He stars alongside Canadian actress and relative newcomer Taylor Russell as two young lovers in 1980s rural America, who face the usual emotional coming-of-age challenges, but must also contend with an uncontrollable need for human flesh.
Though the couple struggle to live with their horrific affliction, 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 star of sci-fi epic Dune (2021) sounded less than optimistic about the state of the world and the pressure felt by his generation.
"To be young now is to be intensely 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."
Russell, 28, agreed it was "scary" to be young.
"Opinions are flooded into your everyday in such a drastic and severe way," she said. "The hope is you can find your own compass in all of it but that seems a difficult task now."
Despite the gory premise, Chalamet said Bones And All 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".
He has played a string of often intense, troubled young men - such as in films like Hot Summer Nights (2017), Beautiful Boy (2018) and The King (2019) - but admitted this has been "one of the weirdest parts" of his career.
"I hope it doesn't get misconstrued as a horror film or a cannibal film, or a film that is fake edgy that is trying to shock you," he said.
"It is about so much more than that. It is about the human experience. It is about being alive at a time when there wasn't the Internet and being totally disenfranchised and finding love that makes you feel seen." AFP/REUTERS