Faithfully adapted from the 2017 novel of the same name by Andre Aciman. Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name is not only one of the finest coming of age films of a generation. But also one of the most important LGBTQ+ films of the past twenty years. But how did a small budget film with a relatively unknown actor in the lead role so firmly embed itself in the public consciousness? The answer to this question is multi-layered, but in part, it sits within Call Me By Your Name’s ability to transcend genre boundaries. By dovetailing a rich portrait of young gay love, desire and infatuation with a more traditional coming of age picture. The resulting film furthering the portrayal of gay relationships on screen while speaking to every viewer no matter their sexual orientation or gender.
Set in Northern Italy during the early 80s, Call Me By Your Name plays with memory, desire and first love in its cinematography and narrative. With each scene cloaked in a dream-like veil of greens, blues and yellows. The colours of nature and imagination colliding with the intensity of sexuality and desire, in turn, creating a story that plays out like a delicious and sensual yet equally painful memory of adolescence. Reflecting the hidden and buried memories of first love and desire, we all hold dear. The initial spark that gave flight to our journey into sexuality and adulthood and all the beauty, excitement, longing and hurt it carried. However, this dreamy aesthetic is surrounded by the forbidden fruits of nature. The luscious Italian countryside and ripe fruits of summer acting as a garden of Eden for Elio’s innermost desires.
This interface of memory, desire and nature is matched by a score that embraces sensuality and discovery. As the dream-inducing music of Sufjan Stevens combines with classical pieces that embody a delicate yet vibrant tone. Ultimately delivering a film that balances the complexity of emotions and actions surrounding sexual desire and discovery. With the sheer intensity of teenage lust, jealously and vulnerability during first love. Here, Guadagnino’s film taps into the inner teenager that still dwells in our subconscious. The experiences that formed the adult brought to the surface during two hours of pure cinematic beauty. However, the power of Call Me By Your Name would not have been possible without the performance of Timothee Chalamet. A relatively unknown actor until Elio catapulted him to stardom.
Timothee Chalamet gives us a performance of layered emotion and emerging self-confidence. Bringing Elio to life on screen by sharing his innermost feelings and thoughts through a single look, gesture or action. Simultaneously, embracing the delicate nature of sexual discovery, jealousy and vulnerability in first love. And when this is combined with Oliver’s public confidence and personal discomfort, Call Me By Your Name jumps from the screen. The narrative, performances and direction combining to create a rare cinematic masterpiece.
Director: Luca Guadagnino