FIVE STARS A teenager finds holiday romance when his father's assistant moves into the room next door
Starring Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer
Gorgeous. From the iridescent setting to James Ivory’s elegant script to two riveting performances to Sufjan Steven’s cascading soundtrack to the overwhelming, beating heart at the centre of Luca Guadagnino’s melancholic wonder of a film; everything, everything, about CALL ME BY YOUR NAME is gorgeous.
“Nature has cunning ways of find out weakest spot,” says Elio’s father. It’s 1983 and Elio is a smart, talented, seventeen year old music student on holiday with his parents in Italy. Oliver (Armie Hammer) joins them at the house they’re staying in - he’s helping the boy’s father study an archeological project, and given an adjoining room to Elio. It’s summer and with it comes freedom and possibility - the pair strike up an immediate friendship.
James Ivory, well known as one half of Merchant / Ivory and director of A ROOM WITH A VIEW and HOWARD’S END among others, has penned a story bathed in atmosphere and emotion. It speaks to every holiday that ever was, or ever desired - one of blinding sun and light winds, the smell of lavender and stone fruit, of hope and heartbreak. For Oliver finds himself struck by the teenager's blue-sky charm while Elio is drawn by the attractive man's confidence. Holiday romance is just around the corner.
In than hands of Ivory and Guadagninio, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME is a love poem, and a soaring one at that. Despite the story’s frame (same-sex attraction across an age-gap in the early 80’s) there is absolutely nothing that is creepy, mawkish, coy, twee or self-loathing about the tale. The only trauma stems from inevitable parting (that’s not a spoiler) permitting it to sit alongside similarly modern, refreshing romances like WEEKEND and GOD’S OWN COUNTRY, albeit with an Arcadian twist.
Expect to hear chatter about this film at the Oscars, not only for Mr Steven’s Mystery Of Love but also the breakout performance by Timothée Chalamet as Elio. Hammer’s not bad either… In fact, such is the palpable chemistry between these two actors, they convey complex thought and emotion with barely a word spoken (credit to Mr Ivory). It makes for a rare, intense experience.
At its core, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME is a film about people trying to find themselves in one another. Familiar yes, but seldom if ever has it been drawn so convincingly, and with such tangible, choking, playful emotion and beauty. It’s the stuff of life really, and it’s gorgeous.