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 public consciousness? The answer to this question is multi layered, but in part sits within the ability of Call Me By Your Name to transcend genre boundaries. By dovetailing a rich portrait of young gay love, desire and infatuation with a more traditional coming of age picture. In a film that not only furthers the mainstream portrayal of gay relationships on film. But also, speaks to every viewer no matter of 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 both cinematography and narrative. With each scene cloaked in a dream like veil of greens, blues and yellows. As the colours of nature and imagination collide 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. In turn 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 also 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 inner most desires.
This interface of memory, desire and nature finds itself 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.
This creates a film that manages to tap into and speak to 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 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 inner most feelings and thoughts through a single look, gesture or action. While embracing the delicate nature of sexual discovery, jealousy and vulnerability in first love. And when this is combined with the public confidence versus the private discomfort of Armie Hammer’s Oliver. The narrative, performances and direction combine to create nothing short of cinematic excellence. With Call Me By Your Name managing to embed itself into your mind like a vivid dream. Each scene becoming a new cinematic memory, shining with complexity versus innocence, desire versus security and the abundant fruit of human love.
Director: Luca Guadagnino