Call Me by Your Name
Luca Guadagnino's adaptation of Call Me by Your Name, featuring extraordinary performances by Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet, should be filed alongside cinema's other great works about first love
With A Bigger Splash, director Luca Guadagnino used an Italian summer as the backdrop for a vibrant, erotically charged clash of personalities. His latest effort, Call Me by Your Name, based on André Aciman’s beloved 2007 novel, features this same setting but a different tonal register. Here, the modes are pure heady romance and coming-of-age tale, and it’s one of the most beautiful recent examples of both.
It’s 1983, and 17-year-old American-Italian Elio (a spellbinding Timothée Chalamet) becomes enamoured with Oliver (Armie Hammer), a 20-something research student who's working with Elio's professor father (Michael Stuhlbarg) for the summer and boarding at the family's Italian villa. The precocious Elio (sort of) has a girlfriend, Marzia (Esther Garrel), but is generally inexperienced in matters of the heart. As he and Oliver bond further, the choice between speaking up about one another’s feelings or keeping longings hidden only gets harder.
For the Euro film enthusiast, one can trace the DNA of the works of Eric Rohmer and Jean Renoir (filmmakers Guadagnino has openly expressed admiration for) in the film’s deeply humanist streak concerning romance and decency. Additionally, Maurice Pialat’s coming-of-age classic À Nos Amours, itself a tale heavy on sexual discovery, seems to get an explicit homage in the opening scenes in the form of one of Marzia’s outfits.
But as influenced by certain filmmakers as Call Me by Your Name is, so much of its thrill comes from how Guadagnino, and James Ivory on script duty, manage to make the sensations and rapport between the characters feel as fresh and sweeping to the viewer as they do for those onscreen. Taking a chance on love is a great risk, and Guadagnino’s film – which has a comedic streak just as potent as its dramatic one – is a gorgeous depiction of the ecstasy and agony involved with taking the required leap of faith.
Released by Sony Pictures