Reviewed By Linda Marric
It’s the summer of 1983 and 17 year old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) is spending the summer with his parents at their holiday home in rural Italy. Fluent in Italian, French and English, Elio has grown up in an environment where all three language are spoken with beautiful ease by his Italian-American academic father (Michael Stuhlbarg) and French mother (Amira Casar). In between the usual teenage activities, Elio spends his time reading the classics and occasionally flirting with the beautiful Marzia (Esther Garrel). The teenager's whole world is however turned upside down by the arrival of Oliver (Armie Hammer), a handsome American student who has been invited to spend the summer with the family.
Several years older than Elio, Oliver at first seems reluctant to spend any time with the smitten teenager, but soon neither of them can ignore the attraction they have for each other. Creating a world which lures you in with an ambitious premise, Guadagnino rather refreshingly delivers on all accounts. Not one shot or one syllable uttered by his characters is left to chance, and not one minute is wasted on superfluous padding. You will find yourself increasingly attached to these characters and to the world they inhabit, and when the end comes you are simply unable to tear yourself away from the screen.
Guadagnino ability to make even the most mundane of tasks look as enchanting as the story it tells, goes a long way into showing just how accomplished he is. And by cleverly delaying the gratification of finally bringing the couple together, the director cleverly allows his audiences to get involved in rooting for his protagonists. With every furtive glance and gentle ribbing, the lovers are slowly brought together to our delight, even if it is at the expense of the young women who are literally discarded as soon as the two young men are brought together.
Hammer is perfect as Oliver, he is handsome, arrogant and above all just utterly mesmeric. He is the tall beautiful stranger of any teenage girl or boy’s dreams. Unburdened by earthly worries and nonchalant to the point of irritation, Hammer manages to convey his innermost feelings in just one look and or brush of the hair. Chalamet’s turn as Elio is rather impressive for someone so young, especially considering that he is in almost every scene of the film.The young actor exudes youthful buoyancy and joie de vivre and while Elio’s at times know-all demeanour could have come across as a little irritating in the someone else’s hands, Chalamet’s expertly judged performance manages to charm you no matter what.
Call Me By Your Name is an enchanting take on love and loss, but it is also a beautifully sensual story, one which allows each and everyone of us to be reconciled with our inner teenager and the early crushes and disappointment. Guadagnino does a fantastic job in igniting in all of us a memory of what it was like to be young once. A genuine masterpiece.
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Writers: James Ivory (screenplay by), Andre Aciman (based on the novel by)
Stars: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg
Call Me By Your Name is out on General Release on Friday 27th of October