Luca Guadagnino is a filmmaker who commands respect for his lavishly designed production that set your senses on fire, and he now returns with a film that will wrestle with your emotions in the beautifully crafted Call Me By Your Name.
Summer, 1983. Teenager Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet) is ready to embrace the summer sun and is looking to make the most of it with plenty of parties, music and a blossoming romance with a local girl called Marzia. But when his family’s new live-in doctoral student Oliver (Armie Hammer) arrives, Elio’s world is thrown into a spin. What starts as friendship soon leads to a romance that will change his world forever, and Elio is beset by a range of feelings and emotions that he had never felt before.
Guadagnino’s adaptation of Call Me By Your Name is a film experience that completely absorbs you as an audience member. You can literally feel the heat of the Italian sun as the director uses magnificent production design and the stunning locations of Crema, Italy to build a world for his blissful summer romance. The film’s 1980 setting is also crucial to the film’s plot and informs the lead characters of Elio and Oliver. Bright pastel colours and the music of The Psychedelic Furs create a vision of the primal setting for love to grow, and while watching this film all I wanted to do was step onto its screen and start grooving with Elio and Elliot as they danced into the long hours of the night. Call Me By Your Name features some of the best cinematography I’ve ever seen in a film, and thanks to the eye of cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom the many historical locations of Crema, Italy really shine.
Taking centre stage on screen is Timothée Chalamet, a young performer who makes a statement with the role of Elio Perlman that he is a talent to be watched. Chalamet is an extremely committed performer and while watching this film I forget that I was watching Chalamet and only Elio was left. As Elio, Chalamet goes through a plethora of emotions that begin to change who he is as he becomes attached to Hammer’s Oliver. It’s a committed performance and for the range of emotions and heavy dramatic scenes that Chalamet has to handle as Elio he carries a maturity that extends beyond his years and I definitely look forward to seeing what he does next.
Standing beside Chalamet is Armie Hammer as the Adonis-like Oliver, a beautiful and handsome American doctoral student who arrives in Elio’s home and brings everyone under his influence including Elio. From the very first moments of the film, Hammer’s Oliver is the driving force behind the romance that he shares with Elio and it’s clear that she shares a deep love for him. As Oliver Hammer displays a completely laid back persona and at every turn epitomises the idea of summer cool with his Ray-Ban sunglasses and brightly coloured polo shirts. Like Chalamet his performance is extremely brave and thought-provoking and singles a new part of his career.
If Call Me By Your Name has a central theme then it is most definitely love. In my mind, Guadagnino wanted to craft a film that would explore every facet of this universal concept, and in my opinion, he succeeds. From both, it’s extremely physical nature to the emotions that bind us when we fall under its spell Guadagnino examines every part of the idea and nature of love, one of, if not, the most prominent human drivers in all of existence. You feel every part of this idea through this film and when the film’s final scene draws to a close you’ll certainly need to wipe away the tears.
The sexuality of Call Me By Your Name is also extremely frank and carries with it the openness of a European sensibility. Guadagnino explores both Elio’s heterosexual and homosexual love affairs with Oliver and Marza and the filming gets extremely hot. But this is not a move on his part to just get a reaction out of his audience for sheer gratuitous pleasure, but rather it is an examination of the extreme passions that Elio finds himself engaged in. The sex depicted on screen is definitely erotic in nature and captured as such, but it is presented as a complete expression of love between the characters and is an important driver in the film.
Call Me By Your Name is an extremely beautiful and tender piece of cinema and one of the best film’s you’ll see all year. I highly recommend that you watch it, and that you let it’s message and storytelling wash over you.
Image: Sony Pictures