Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Luca Gaudagnino
Stars: Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casa.
Call Me By Your Name is a sensitive gay-themed coming of age story set in Crema, a sun-drenched rural part of Italy in the 1980s and it deals with themes of adolescence, obsession, desire, repressed sexuality, infatuation and identity. The film is based on the best-selling 2007 novel by Andre Aciman, and has been sensitively adapted to the screen by James Ivory, best known for his work with the late Ishmail Merchant.
Elio Perlman (played by Timothee Chalamet, who played Matthew McConaughey’s son in Interstellar) is the bright and curious 17-year old son of respected archaeologist (Michael Stuhlbarg, from tv series Boardwalk Empire, etc), who specialises in Greco-Roman culture. His days are spent reading, swimming and transcribing music, but it is a fairly dull and routine existence. Every summer an intern comes to stay with the family and work with his father in their 17th century villa. This year it is Oliver (Armie Hammer, from The Lone Ranger, The Man From UNCLE, etc)), a handsome and charming 24-year-old American research student. Elio finds himself drawn towards Oliver. It takes some time before the two realise they feel the same and eventually begin to act on their desires. At first they seem to sidestep their growing mutual attraction, but over the course of the summer their relationship becomes more intense and intimate.
Call Me By Your Name is the new feature from Italian director Luca Guadgnino (the ravishingly beautiful I Am Love, etc), and is the third film in his so-called Desire trilogy. This is the follow up to A Bigger Splash, and it is his most mature, tender and restrained work to date. As with his previous film, a lot of the action here takes place near water – be it a swimming pool, the ocean, or a lake – which acts as a metaphor for the fluidity of life.
Call Me By Your Name is an intimate and introspective coming of age drama, beautifully filmed and acted, and Gaudagnino’s sensitive direction deftly avoids any hint of melodrama. There is a palpable chemistry at work between Chalamet and Hammer that breathes life into the relationship. This is the breakthrough role for the precociously talented Chalamet. He is a revelation as Elio, and brings intelligence and a sense of longing and curiosity to his performance, and he captures the pain, the confusion and insecurity of adolescence and first love. Hammer is largely cast against type here, but he brings charm, sensitivity and warmth to his performance, which has similar nuances and understatement to his recent turn in Final Portrait. Stuhlbarg is also good in a subtle and nuanced performance, and has a fine moment with his final profoundly moving and heartfelt speech to Elio in which he offers wisdom and acceptance. The cast also includes Esther Garrel, who is the daughter of legendary French director Philippe Garrel.
Gaudagnino chose to shoot the film in his own hometown of Crema. The sumptuous and seductive visuals have been provided by Thai cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, who bathes the material in a warm palette, and the gorgeous locations are enough to have you planning a trip to Italy. And the lush sensual piano driven score also enhances the beautiful mood.